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Cong veterans face star power

Congress candidates Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder and Raghunandan Lal Bhatia have won their seats five times each. But they now face tough challenge from Vinod Khanna and Navjot Sidhu.
PTI | By Press Trust of India, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON APR 23, 2004 10:36 PM IST

After being victorious for five times will Congress nominees Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder (Gurdaspur) and Raghunandan Lal Bhatia (Amritsar) score a sixth win in the May 10 Lok Sabha polls in Punjab.

While Bhinder had defeated her rivals in five consecutive elections in Gurdaspur seat from 1980 onwards, veteran Congress leader Bhatia had lost thrice in a total of eight rounds since he jumped into the fray in 1977. Bhatia faces cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu.

The Congress high command has once again reposed faith in both Bhinder and Bhatia from their traditional constituencies even though the former got drubbing from filmstar-turned-politician Vinod Khanna in the last two elections.

The winning spree of Bhinder from border constituency Gurdaspur was disturbed by Khanna, a BJP candidate, in 1998 and subsequently in 1999 also.

Bhinder had defeated her opponents in 1980, 1985, 1989, 1992, and 1996 Lok Sabha polls.

Another Congress stalwart Bhatia had registered win in 1980, 1985, 1992, 1996 and 1999. He, however, contested unsuccessfully from the border constituency of Amritsar in 1977, 1989 and 1998.

Bhatia, in the 1998 polls, lost the Amritsar seat to BJP's Daya Singh Sodhi.

The total number of voters in Gurdaspur and Amritsar constituency are 12,09,487 and 12,93,016 respectively.

The two Lok Sabha seats are set to witness a multi-contest in the May 10 polls.

Among those who are trying their luck to make their entry into the Lok Sabha for the third time from Punjab are Sukhbir Singh Badal (Faridkot), Jagmeet Singh Brar (Ferozepur) and Simranjeet Singh Mann (Sangrur).

While Sukhbir Singh Badal, son of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD-Amritsar) chief Mann were contesting from their traditional Faridkot and Sangrur seats, Brar had switched over from his Faridkot to Ferozepur seat.

The junior Badal had twice handed over defeat to Brar in 1996 and 1998 before losing to him in the last polls.

Firebrand leader Brar, a Congress nominee, is entering into the battle of ballot to the Lok Sabha for the sixth consecutive time. He had lost in 1989 when he contested poll from Ferozepur seat. However, he is jumping into the battle of ballot from Ferozepur again.

Brar had registered win twice from Faridkot and lost the same seat to the junior Badal twice.

Radical Akali leader Mann had been defeated twice by the then Akali candidate Surjeet Singh Barnala in 1996 and 1998 polls in Sangrur seat.

Besides securing win at the last hustings Mann had also entered the Lok Sabha from Tarn Taran seat in 1987.

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