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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014

Talwandi Sabo bypoll: AAP cancels ticket to Balkar Sidhu

Kamaldeep Singh Brar, Hindustan Times   Bathinda, August 01, 2014
First Published: 23:11 IST(1/8/2014) | Last Updated: 23:12 IST(1/8/2014)

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener Arvind Kejriwal on Friday cancelled the candidature of singer-turned-politician Balkar Sidhu for the August 21 Talwandi Sabo byelection.

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Allegations of human trafficking against Sidhu apparently led to this decision. The party has now given the ticket to Baljinder Kaur, a lecturer who hails from Talwandi Sabo.

It is learnt that a woman journalist based in Toronto (Canada), who works for a radio station, shot off a letter to Kejriwal, alleging that Sidhu had ruined a girl’s life in a human trafficking case. The girl, who belongs to Sidhu’s native village Phulla (Bathinda district), is reportedly living in Toronto and struggling to get permanent residency there.
This case was also highlighted by the AAP’s NRI team, which is a major source of funding for the party.

Talking to HT after the cancellation of his candidature, Sidhu said he had never sought the AAP ticket. “It was the party which approached me for contesting from Talwandi Sabo. I was told to send my profile to Delhi. Subsequently, my name was cleared. I was busy campaigning when I got to know that the AAP had changed the candidate.”

On the allegations of human trafficking, Sidhu said, “There is nothing on record against me. I will ask the party’s Punjab unit to explain the reasons for the U-turn,” he added.

AAP member of Parliament (MP) from Sangrur Bhagwant Mann had backed Sidhu’s candidature despite opposition from members of the party’s state executive committee. During his visit to Talwandi Sabo last week, Kejriwal had said that the party would cancel Sidhu’s ticket only if someone came up with credible evidence against him.

AAP leader Jarnail Singh, who looks after the party’s Punjab affairs, refused to comment on the matter.

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