How strong is the Akali challenge

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Feb 06, 2015 12:13 IST

Rajouri Garden: Here the Shiromani Akali Dal’s hopes and stakes are high as its candidate Manjinder Singh Sirsa is the only Akali contesting on the party’s symbol of ‘scales’; the rest are on BJP’s ‘lotus’. Manjinder is the richest among all candidates in fray in Delhi this time. Known to be a resourceful ‘poll manager’, he had won in 2013 as well.

Former journalist Jarnail Singh — who had shot into the limelight after he threw a shoe at the then home minister P Chidambram in 2009 over the 1984 anti-Sikh riots — is the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate. For the Akalis, significance of the seat can be gauged from the fact that Punjab revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia, one of the party’s frontline leaders, is his election manager. Punjab deputy CM and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal too held rallies here.

Kalkaji: Contesting on the BJP symbol, Akali candidate Harmeet Singh Kalka is considered low-key as compared to other Akalis in fray. He is facing his one-time political guru, AAP’s Avtar Singh Kalkaji, who also remained a member of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC). He also failed to spend funds received for development of the constituency since 2013 when he had won. SAD MP Prem Singh Chandumajra is his election in-charge.

Hari Nagar: Veteran Avtar Singh Hit is locked in a tough contest. Even his candidature had come as a surprise, while the other three had won last time and were expected to be fielded. Making it tougher, Harsharan Singh Balli, a three-time former MLA who left the Congress to join the BJP in the last polls, is not supporting him. He is low on popularity despite having remained DSGMC president and also chief of the SAD’s Delhi unit. The AAP’s Jagdeep Singh, who is the sitting MLA, has emerged stronger.

Shahdara: Jatinder Singh Shanty is popular here and has also remained a municipal councillor. Unlike the other three Akali candidates’ seats that have high Sikh and Punjabi voters, Shahdara has only a few hundred Sikhs living here.

Shanty is facing, among other candidates, his sister Preeti, who is an independent contender. Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal has carried out rallies here. The AAP has fielded former BJP MLA and veteran activist Ram Niwas Goel here.

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