Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has apparently announced its first candidate for the Punjab assembly elections due early next year: Gurpreet Singh ‘Raju’ Khanna from Amloh.
Deputy chief minister and party president Sukhbir Singh Badal posted this on his official Twitter account (@officeofssbadal) at 7.07pm on Tuesday: “I appeal to the people to make Gurpreet Singh Raju Khanna victorious in coming assembly elections to ensure complete development of Amloh.”
Just before that, Sukhbir also tweeted, “We have accepted the long-pending demand of Raju Khanna to extend the limit of Municipal Council of industrial city Mandi Gobindgarh.”
The SAD had replaced its Amloh constituency (halqa) in-charge Jagdeep Singh Cheema with Khanna earlier this month. Earlier in the day, Sukhbir at a sangat darshan (public meet) in Amloh urged people to “make Raju Khanna win”, though SAD had not announced its candidates formally yet.
He also tried to curb possible dissent by Cheema’s supporters. Just before the start of his the programme, he headed toward the microphone despite an announcement that Raju Khanna was to address the gathering, and praised Cheema. He also announced that Cheema would be given more responsibilities in the party and the next government (if the SAD retains power). “Now Cheema and Raju Khanna would be working together to make the party win,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sukhbir urged people to give the current government “one more chance” to serve them. He promised that Rs 30,000 crore would be spent on rural development if the SAD-BJP comes back in power. Inducting an AAP leader, Raghbir Shukla, into the SAD’s fold during the programme, he called the Arvind Kejriwal-led party “worth nothing”.
At the programme, too, he announced to expend limits of the Mandi Gobindgarh MC. “It was a long-pending demand of the residents,” said Khanna.