Ex-CM Channi to contest from Jalandhar, Khaira is Sangrur pick in Congress’ list of six candidates for Punjab - Hindustan Times
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Ex-CM Channi to contest from Jalandhar, Khaira is Sangrur pick in Congress’ list of six candidates for Punjab

By, Chandigarh
Apr 15, 2024 08:02 AM IST

Congress unveils its Punjab Lok Sabha candidates, including Sukhpal Singh Khaira in Sangrur, setting up a fierce battle against AAP and Akali Dal candidates.

The Congress party unveiled its six candidates for the Lok Sabha polls in Punjab on Sunday, strategically positioning its heavyweights, including former chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi from Jalandhar along with two sitting MPs Gujit Singh Aujla from Amritsar and Amar Singh from Fatehgarh Sahib. However, the candidature of Bholath MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira, a known bete-noire of Bhagwant Mann, from Sangrur, the home turf hold of the Punjab chief minister, makes it the most interesting battle of Lok Sabha in Punjab.

Sukhpal Singh Khaira will face off against sitting MP Simranjit Singh Mann of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), AAP candidate and minister Gurmeet Singh Hayer, as well as Iqbal Singh Jhoonda of the Shiromani Akali Dal
Sukhpal Singh Khaira will face off against sitting MP Simranjit Singh Mann of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), AAP candidate and minister Gurmeet Singh Hayer, as well as Iqbal Singh Jhoonda of the Shiromani Akali Dal

In what promises to be a clash of titans, Sukhpal Singh Khaira will face off against sitting MP Simranjit Singh Mann of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), AAP candidate and minister Gurmeet Singh Hayer, as well as Iqbal Singh Jhoonda of the Shiromani Akali Dal. Khaira has been a vocal critic of the Aam Aadmi Party and Bhagwant Mann.

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Khaira’s candidacy is notable given his arrest by the Punjab police in an alleged drugs case, although he was subsequently granted bail by the high court. Recently, Punjab informed the Supreme Court that it would not pursue the trial against Khaira in the drugs case. Additionally, Khaira has been outspoken on Sikh issues, including the imposition of the National Security Act (NSA) on radical Sikh preacher Amritpal Singh and his associates.

Setting aside opposition from the Phillaur MLA Vikramjit Singh Chaudhary, the Congress has nominated former chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi as its candidate from Jalandhar. Chaudhary had advocated for the ticket to be given to his mother, Karamjit Kaur, who lost the bypolls to AAP candidate Sushil Rinku in 2023, held after the demise of sitting Jalandhar MP Santokh Singh.

Meanwhile, Congress has reaffirmed its trust in its two sitting MPs, Gurjit Singh Aujla and Amar Singh, from the Amritsar and Fatehgarh Sahib constituencies, respectively. Aujla will contend with BJP candidate Taranjit Singh Sandhu, AAP candidate and Punjab minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal, and Anil Joshi of the Shiromani Akali Dal, while Amar Singh will face AAP candidate Gurpreet Singh GP and Bikramjit Singh Khalsa of the Shiromani Akali Dal from Fatehgarh Sahib.

Furthermore, Congress has placed its bets on former MLA Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu for the Bathinda Lok Sabha seat, traditionally a stronghold of the Akali Dal, where Harsimrat Kaur Badal has been a three-time MP. This move comes as a surprise, especially considering the active involvement of Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh Raja Warring’s wife, Amrita Warring, in the Bathinda constituency. Sidhu joined the Congress party in October 2023 after leaving SAD. The Akali Dal and BJP are yet to announce their candidate from the Bathinda seat.

In Patiala, Congress has announced the name of former AAP MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi, who recently joined the party, pitting him against sitting MP and BJP candidate Preneet Kaur, NK Sharma of the Akali Dal, and Punjab minister Dr Balbir Singh of the AAP. Dr Gandhi had previously defeated Preneet Kaur during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Soon after the announcement of the candidature, Khaira thanked the party high command for reposing faith in him.

“I’m extremely grateful to the entire @INCIndia leadership particularly @SoniaGandhi_FC ji @kharge ji President, @RahulGandhi ji Ex President, @priyankagandhi ji, @kcvenugopalmp, @rssurjewala, @devendrayadvinc, @RajaBrar_INC & @Partap_Sbajwa for having reposed trust in me to fight Sangrur Lok Sabha the bastion of @AamAadmiParty,” Khaira said in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

“I assure my party leadership and the voters of Sangrur that I will leave no stone unturned to serve Punjab with utmost dedication, sincerity and honesty. I seek the support of all people who love Punjab to rise above partisan politics to defeat the present ruling dispensation”, Khaira added.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Vishal Rambani is an assistant editor covering Punjab. A journalist with over a decade of experience, he writes on politics, crime, power sector, environment and socio-economic issues. He has several investigative stories to his credit.

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