LS Polls: Chandumajra is Anandpur Sahib pick, Daljit Cheema fielded from Gurdaspur as SAD announces first list - Hindustan Times
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LS Polls: Chandumajra is Anandpur Sahib pick, Daljit Cheema fielded from Gurdaspur as SAD announces first list

By, Chandigarh
Apr 14, 2024 08:14 AM IST

The Akali Dal has fielded NK Sharma from Patiala, Anil Joshi from Amritsar, Bikramjit Singh Khalsa from Fatehgarh Sahib, Rajwinder Singh from Faridkot and Iqbal Singh Jhoonda from Sangrur.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Saturday announced its first list of seven Lok Sabha candidates for Punjab, fielding senior leaders Daljit Singh Cheema from Gurdaspur and Prem Singh Chandumajra from Anandpur Sahib.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Saturday announced Prem Singh Chandumajra from Anandpur Sahib seat for Lok Sabha polls.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Saturday announced Prem Singh Chandumajra from Anandpur Sahib seat for Lok Sabha polls.

The Akali Dal has fielded NK Sharma from Patiala, Anil Joshi from Amritsar, Bikramjit Singh Khalsa from Fatehgarh Sahib, Rajwinder Singh from Faridkot and Iqbal Singh Jhoonda from Sangrur.

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This is the first time, since 1996, that SAD will be contesting the Lok Sabha polls on its own after it severed ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2020 over now-repealed farm laws.

Polling for the 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab will be held in the last round of the seven-phase elections on June 1.

Except for Chandumajra and Cheema, rest of the candidates announced today are first-timers.

Besides the 13 seats in Punjab, SAD is also contesting the lone LS seat in Chandigarh.

The remaining six seats in the state besides Chandigarh are Bathinda, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Khadoor Sahib and Ferozepur.

Chandumajra was MP from Patiala in 1996 and 1998 and Anandpur Sahib in 2014. Congress MP Manish Tewari is the sitting MP from the Anandpur Sahib, who has been shifted to Chandigarh, while AAP has fielded its state unit chief spokesperson Malvinder Singh Kang.

Cheema is pitted against BJP candidate Dinesh Babbu, who replaced sitting MP Sunny Deol. AAP and Congress are yet to announce their candidates for Gurdaspur. Joshi was Amritsar North MLA in 2007 and 2012. He quit the BJP in 2021 and joined SAD. He will be facing BJP nominee and former diplomat Taranjit Singh Sandhu and AAP’s Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal. Amritsar seat is presently represented by Congress MP Gurjeet Singh Aujla.

From Patiala, SAD’s nominee, former MLA Sharma, will be facing BJP’s Preneet Kaur and AAP’s Dr Balbir Singh.

Harsimrat announcement put on the back burner

SAD has put the announcement of Harsimrat Kaur’s candidature from Bathinda on the back burner owing to changing political dynamics in the constituency. Wife of SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, Harsimrat is a three-time consecutive MP from Bathinda, having won in 2009, 2014 and 2019. She also remained a Union minister in the (PM) Modi cabinet before resigning in 2020 as a protest against now-repealed three farm laws.

In the last few days, political dynamics in the high-profile constituency have changed, forcing the Akali Dal to hold back the decision to announce a candidate for the Bathinda seat. A few days back, Punjab IAS officer Parampal Kaur, who is the daughter-in-law of former minister and Shiromani Akali Dal leader Sikander Maluka, resigned and joined BJP on April 11. She is being seen as the party nominee from the seat. Till now, AAP has officials announced Gurmeet Singh Khudian as the party’s nominee from the Bathinda LS seat.

“The party wants to see and understand the changing political dynamics in the constituency before announcing the candidate,” an Akali leader said, pleading anonymity.

But party spokesperson Cheema denied that the delay is attributed to political upheavals in Bathinda and said: “The party will soon name its candidates for the remaining seats.”

No mention of Dhindsa

The other prominent name missing from the first list is that of Parminder Singh Dhindsa which has left many in Akali Dal and the political circles surprised.

Parminder and his father Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, who came back into the party fold after a gap of four years, were expecting a nomination from Sangrur as they used to be the party’s obvious choice from the constituency in the past elections.

On his return, Dhindsa Sr was given the overarching role of patron of the party. However, party sources revealed no consultations had taken place with him over candidature in these seven constituencies announced today.

“Before being inducted into the party, Dhindsas were promised a say in the party’s matters for the Sangrur district, but what has transpired at the time of announcing candidature has raised everyone’s curiosity,” said an Akali leader not willing to be named.

“I have no problem even if the party has not made me a candidate. I will support the party’s choice,” Parminder said. While, according to Jhoonda the party has listened to the demand of the party workers, who demanded him to be a candidate.

Kin of taksali Akalis, supporters in the list

The majority of the candidates announced today belong to the families of taksali (traditional) Akalis who have close ties with the Badal family.

Cheema has worked closely with Badals as an advisor with the party’s patriarch Parkash Singh Badal when he was state CM (during 2007-12 term), Sharma is the party’s treasurer, Khalsa is the son of an old Akali leader Basant Singh Khalsa and Rajwinder Singh is grandson of Gurdev Singh Badal (Nanaji), who hails from Badal village and remained Parkash Singh Badal’s man Friday.

After the 2022 state poll defeat, Jhoonda headed the committee that suggested ways for the party’s course correction, while Chandumajra has been steadfast in support of the party president.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Gurpreet Singh Nibber is an Assistant Editor with the Punjab bureau. He covers politics, agriculture, power sector, environment, Sikh religious affairs and the Punjabi diaspora.

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