Battlelines for the April 11 Dhuri bypoll have been drawn as Simarpartap Singh Barnala, grandson of Akali stalwart and former Punjab CM Surjit Singh Barnala, will contest against Gobind Singh Longowal, the Akali-BJP candidate.
Owing to sharp division in the leadership and finding no prominent aspirant from the party, the Congress has decided to stay away from the bypoll, joining hands with other opposition parties to field a joint candidate against the SAD-BJP alliance.
Under the formula, Simarpartap, the Sanjha Morcha candidate, will contest on the Congress symbol.
Simarpartap (27) will take on former minister Gobind Singh Longowal, whom the Shiromani Akali Dal has re-nominated for the crucial bypoll. The official announcement of Longowal’s candidature was made on Friday afternoon.
“As per the advice of the Punjab Congress leadership, the high command has decided to join other opposition parties to field a joint candidate, who will contest on the Congress symbol. We nominated the Barnala family to select the candidate,” said Shakeel Ahmad, general secretary, All India Congress Committee. He said the entire Congress leadership of Punjab would join campaigning at Dhuri to expose the ‘misrule’ of the SAD-BJP alliance.
Simarpartap’s father Gaganjit Barnala said the senior Congress leadership would join the opposition leadership to file nomination papers.
The Barnala family has approached Amritsar MP and deputy leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Captain Amarinder Singh for campaigning. Amarinder was a minister in the Surjit Singh Barnala government in the 1980s.
Meanwhile, two candidates filed nomination papers on Friday: SAD (Amritsar) nominee Surjit Singh Kalabulla and Jai Jawan Jai Kisan Party’s Manjit Kaur. Badal shoe-hurler Vikram Singh Dhanula could not file his papers as he reached late at the office of the SDM-cum-returning officer for the bypoll.