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HindustanTimes Tue,21 Oct 2014

Patiala assembly bypoll: SAD ticket race begins

Vishal Rambani, Hindustan Times   Patiala, June 09, 2014
First Published: 00:33 IST(9/6/2014) | Last Updated: 01:22 IST(9/6/2014)

In a sharp contrast to 2012 elections, when no one except former minister Surjit Singh Kohli from the Shiromani Akali Dal was willing to contest from the Patiala assembly seat, the SAD is facing a problem of plenty.

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A race has started for the party ticket among Akali leaders, who are now smelling a chance of victory in by-elections. The seat has fallen vacant after Congress leader Captain Amarinder Singh became a member parliament from Amritsar.

Former mayor Ajitpal Singh Kohli, Charanjit Singh,brother of cabinet minister Surjit Singh Rakhra, are in the race for ticket, while SAD district unit president Indermohan Singh Bajaj and former mayor Vishnu Sharma also want to try their luck.
 
In 2012 elections, the SAD was finding it hard to get a candidate for the Patiala assembly seat against Amarinder, who was projected as CM candidate by the Congress. The Captain has thrice remained MLA from this seat from 2002 to 2012.

However, with his exit from the Patiala assembly segments, many Akalis see a chance of victory, as they feel that the rise of the Aam Aadmi Party would help the SAD, which will contest by-election to trounce the royal family. Usually, the ruling party always contest the by-elections because it is prestige issue. And so far the Akali Dal has won all by-elections in the state in 2012.

As the Kohli family is traditionally contesting the elections from here, they have an edge over other claimants. The family has decided that instead of former minister Surjit Singh Kohli, this time the family will make claim to the ticket for the former mayor Ajitpal Singh Kohli. Though no one was willing to contest election against Amarinder, but Kohlis  fought lone fight in 2012 for the party. Thus, Kohlis will strongly claim the ticket by citing their sacrifice for the party.

The Kohlis are facing a tough competition from Charanjit Rakhra, who was also a claimant to the Lok Sabha ticket. Rakhra has an edge over the other Akali leaders, as they are the only Akali family in Patiala that had defeated royal family scion Raninder singh, son of Captain Amarinder in 2012 elections, when Surjit Singh Rakhra was elected from Samana. Rakhras are again nurturing dream to defeat another Congressman from Patiala, a strong bastion of royal family.

However, as Rakhra rural background will go against them in the race for the ticket of urban seat. However, for the last fortnight Charanjit is taking personal interests in all matters concerning the Patiala assembly seat. Apart from that  Anandpur Sahib MP Prem Singh Chandumajra, who has also clout in Patiala, may oppose ticket to the Rakhra family. He may support other ticket aspirants which includes SAD district president Indermohan Singh Bajaj and former mayor Vishnu Sharma, though they were not disclosing their cards.

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