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HindustanTimes Sun,23 Nov 2014

Stakes high for SAD-BJP combine, Cong as Punjab goes to polls

PTI  Chandigarh, April 29, 2014
First Published: 16:42 IST(29/4/2014) | Last Updated: 22:37 IST(29/4/2014)

The single-phase polling for 13Lok Sabha seats in Punjab would be held tomorrow where the spotlight is firmly on the encounter in Amritsar between Congress' Amarinder Singh and BJP's Arun Jaitley.
 
The polling tomorrow will see 1.95 crore voters sealing the fate of 253 contestants, including 19 women.
  
Unlike many other states, Congress cadre in Punjab is optimistic about the party prospects after the top leadership rolled up its sleeves and is fighting the battle from the front even as ruling SAD-BJP is banking on development works in the state and the Modi factor.
 
The spotlight is firmly on the encounter in Amritsar where it is a clash of titans as Amarinder Singh and Arun Jaitley are locked in a fierce battle.
 
Bathinda also grabbed eyeballs as Congress candidate Manpreet Singh Badal is facing Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal's daughter-in-law and sitting MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal.
 
Since 2012 when Manpreet deserted SAD to float Peoples Party of Punjab (PPP), the outfit's performance in assembly and panchayat bodies polls has been dismal as it failed to open its account and Manpreet, four times MLA too lost from Maur and Gidderbaha assembly seats.
  
Jaitley is fighting his maiden Lok Sabha polls and a victory is likely to propel him to a position of power if the NDA forms the government, while Amarinder's win will revive his political fortunes and he will again emerge as the key Congress leader in the state.
 
The pitch for Jaitley to contest from Amritsar was raised by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at the cost of three times BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, who was left out as he did not enjoy good equations with Badals duirng his stint as MP from the holy city.
  
Besides, Punjab Congress head Partap Singh Bajwa is locking horns with actor-turned-politician and BJP's Vinod Khanna, former union minister Ambika Soni is fighting her maiden Lok Sabha battle from Anandpur Sahib and Sunil Kumar Jakhar, son of Balram Jakhar and leader of opposition in the assembly is Congress man in Ferozepur.

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