It will be tough for the Congress to choose among a young leader labelled as an outsider by other party leaders, a sitting MLA and a woman aspirant, while in the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), all depends on whether the party decides to shift sitting MP Paramjit Kaur Gulshan or not.
Gulshan is the SAD’s obvious choice from Faridkot Lok Sabha seat, but since her husband, former Punjab and Haryana high court judge Nirmal Singh, is the MLA from Bassi Pathana under Fatehgarh Sahib parliamentary constituency, there are talks of moving her to that area.
If that happens, former MLA Ajit Singh Shant, who joined the SAD in August last year and is keen to contest the parliamentary polls from Faridkot, can emerge as the party’s choice.
Shant had won as an independent MLA from Nihal Singh Wala assembly constituency in Moga district in the 2007 elections and joined the Congress later. After losing the 2012 assembly elections by a thin margin of 591 votes from the same constituency, he joined the SAD.
Shant’s supporters claim that he was inducted into the SAD on the promise of being fielded from Faridkot parliamentary seat. He is already touring areas under the constituency.
In the Congress, the race for the ticket is among Sukhwinder Singh Danny, Congress MLA from Jaitu Joginder Singh and Jagdarshan Kaur.
Danny was handpicked by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, but he lost to Gulshan. Not being a Faridkot native, he faces opposition within the Congress. Danny hails from Amritsar district and is the son of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee vice-president and former minister Sardool Singh.
In an effort to strengthen his claim from Faridkot again and remove the outsider’s tag, he has become a resident of the district, having built a house there, and is active among the public.
Jaitu MLA and Faridkot district Congress committee president Joginder Singh is keen to test himself in the parliamentary polls. However, he may lose out if the party decides not to field a sitting legislator in the Lok Sabha elections to avoid an assembly byelection.
Former Moga district Congress president Jagdarshan Kaur is also a ticket contender. If the SAD decides to field Gulshan, Jagdarshan’s claim as a woman candidate might find favour with the party top brass. She had contested the 2002 assembly elections from Dharamkot.
Former Congress MLA from now-defunct Pucca Kalan assembly segment in Bathinda, Makhan Singh, is also eyeing the party ticket. His claim is based on having pursued his studies from Faridkot and worked as a student leader there.
However, the political scenario might change in case there is an alliance between the Sanjha Morcha and the Congress or between the Congress and Left parties.
In such a situation, the Communist Party of India (CPI) might stake its claim on this seat as there are pockets of Left influence in Faridkot parliamentary constituency.
Paramjit Kaur Gulshan (65): Wife of former high court judge Nirmal Singh, who is currently the SAD MLA from Bassi Pathana assembly segment. She was the MP from Bathinda Lok Sabha seat in 2004 and was shifted to Faridkot after Bathinda was made an open constituency. She is an MA (economics) from Punjabi University, Patiala, and MA (sociology) from Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.
Ajit Singh Shant (57): MA (Punjabi) from Punjabi University, Patiala. His father, Gurdev Singh Shant, was Akali MLA from Nihal Singh Wala in 1977. Shant quit his job as a teacher in 2001 to join politics and won as an independent MLA from Nihal Singh Wala in 2007.
Sukhwinder Singh Danny (37): MBA from Websters Graduate, Regent University (London), he is the son of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) vice-president and former minister Sardool Singh. General secretary of the Punjab Youth Congress, he was picked by Rahul Gandhi (now party vice-president) as the party candidate in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
Joginder Singh (54): A matriculate, he is a two-time MLA who was recently appointed district Congress committee (DCC) president, Faridkot. He was an employee with the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and also a trade union leader.
Results of Faridkot parliamentary constituency since 1992
Year Winner Party
1992 Jagmeet Singh Brar Congress
1996 Sukhbir Singh Badal SAD
1998 Sukhbir Singh Badal SAD
1999 Jagmeet Singh Brar Congress
2004 Sukhbir Singh Badal SAD
2009 Paramjit Kaur Gulshan SAD