Family comes first, not the foot soldiers, even when Punjab politicians file nomination papers —the first step to enter the electoral bout.
As the week-long exercise of filing nomination papers for the February 4 assembly poll ended on Wednesday, frontline politicians of every political outfit in the fray have sought ‘cover’ from their kin as covering candidate.
Wife, son, brother or father are standing as ‘second-in-command’ in most of the 117 assembly segments in case the candidature of the main candidate is rejected.
Scrutiny of nominations will be held on January 19, while the last date for withdrawal of candidature is January 21.
The anxiety of the first step — filing nomination papers —going wrong was palpable among some high-profile candidates such as Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh who has filed four sets of the nomination papers from his bastion Patiala. His wife and former Lok Sabha MP Preneet Kaur is standing as covering candidate with four sets of nominations papers.
As a contingency measure, the contesting candidates carefully opt for a covering candidate. In case papers of the main nominee are rejected, then the covering candidate contests the election, that too if his or her papers are in order. If the papers of the main candidate are accepted, the covering candidate’s candidature is considered as withdrawn.
|Name of Candidate||Covering Candidate||Relation to Main Candidate|
|Amarinder Singh||Preneet Kaur||Wife|
|Parkash Singh Badal||Harsimrat Kaur Badal||Daughter-in -law|
|Sukhbir Singh Badal||Harsimrat Kaur Badal||Wife|
|Partap Singh Kairon||Parneet Kaur||Wife|
|Bikram Singh Majithia||Gurmehar Singh||Brother|
|Razia Sultan||Nishaat Akhtar||Daughter|
|Vijay Inder Singla||Deepa Singla||Wife|
Not only most of the leaders of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) but also those of the opposition Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have opted for their kin as covering candidates, according to the affidavits of the candidates uploaded on the Election Commission (EC) website.
KIN STANDING BY SAD NOMINEES
It is all within the family in case of the Badals — the first political family of Punjab. Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal is the covering candidate of her father-in-law and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal (Lambi) and her husband and deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal (Jalalabad).
In Patti, Badal Senior’s son-in-law Adaish Partap Singh Kairon’s covering candidate is his wife Parneet Kaur, while Harsimrat’s flamboyant brother Bikram Singh Majithia (Majitha) has relied on his elder brother Gurmehar Singh for the ‘cover’.
Most of the Akali ministers have opted for their spouses as covering candidates. In Lehra, Gagandeep Kaur, 38, is covering candidate of her 43-year-old husband and finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa, while in Sahnewal, Pawandeep Kaur, wife of cabinet minister Sharanjit Singh, 63, is the covering candidate.
Education minister Daljit Singh Cheema, 55, has also opted for his wife Harwinder Kaur, 51, as the covering candidate.
Janmeja Singh has also made his wife as the stand-by nominee.
Cabinet ministers Ajit Singh Kohar and Sikander Singh Maluka have opted for their sons to stand by. But Surjit Singh Rakhra has his brother as covering nominee.
In Sardulgarh, Rajya Sabha MP Balwinder Singh Bhundar is covering candidate of his son Dilraj Singh.
CONGRESS SAILS ALONG SAD
Former Congress MLA (Malerkotla) Razia Sultan has fielded her daughter Nishaat Akhtar as covering candidate while former MP Vijay Inder Singla, 45, who is contesting from Sangrur, has his wife Deepa Singla, 46, as stand-by candidate.
Dera Baba Nanak MLA and Congress nominee Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa’s wife Jatinder Kaur is the covering candidate. In Gidderbaha too, Amrita Singh, 38, wife of Amrinder Singh Raja Warring 39, is the standby candidate.
Badal Senior’s younger brother Gurdas Badal, 85, is covering candidate of his son and Congress candidate Manpreet Badal, 54.
While Congress’ Brahm Mohindra (Patiala Rural) and Ashwani Sekhri (Batala) have fielded their sons as covering candidates, party veteran and former minister Lal Singh is stand-by candidate of his son Rajinder Singh, who is making his electoral debut in Samana.
While choosing covering candidates, the APP is no different as the party in most of the seats has followed the SAD-BJP and Congress route. For example, AAP state convener Gurpreet Singh in Batala and Dr Amarjit Singh in Shahkot opted for their spouses as covering candidates.
EXCEPTIONS ARE THERE
AAP’s Bhagwant Mann has opted to file nomination papers without a covering candidate. Pathankot candidate Ashwani Kumar Sharma’s (BJP) covering candidate is Rohit Puri, Pathankot city president of the party, while Seema Kumari (BJP) has filed papers from Bhoa constituency without any covering candidate.