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FEROZEPUR

The political drama of switching sides is something not common to the constituency which shares over 200 km border with Pakistan.
PTI | By Press Trust of India, Ferozepur
UPDATED ON MAY 19, 2004 11:14 AM IST

With Lok Sabha polls less than a fortnight away in this border constituency and discontented leaders switching sides, campaigning in Ferozepur reflects the tough fight in store for the contestants.

The political drama of switching sides is something not very common to the constituency which shares over 200 km border with Pakistan.

In the last few days several Congress, BSP and Akali-BJP combine leaders have opted for a change in their political affiliations leaving voters and their supporters quite confused vis-a-vis making a choice.

The maximum number of leaders who have switched sides are from Congress. Former Congress Minister Babu Ram Chawla from Balluana assembly segment, Babbu Nagpal, Municipal Councillor, Abohar, Sukhdarshan Singh Bhullar, former Vice President DCC, Anish Sidana, former Vice President PYC, Jalalabad, Naresh Setia from Fazilka have joined SAD.

Karansher Singh Sodhi and Manjit Singh Sodhi, relatives of Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, MLA and Political Secretary to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, have joined BJP.

Senior BJP leader Lal Singh Sulhani left the party and joined Congress along with scores of party functionaries. He has alleged that BSP Chief Mayawati has entered into a secret pact with BJP.

BSP leader Poonam Singh Bhatti, meanwhile, joined Congress.

Rebel Akali leader, Inderjit Singh Zira is contesting as an Independent candidate with support of Ravi Inder Singh. He said corruption was his main poll blank as both, Congress and Akalis were indulging into corrupt practices.

Zira was Minister of state in the previous Badal government but had later resigned, when late G S Tohra and Badal parted ways.

Former Congress MLA from Guruharshai, Sajwar Singh who wields lot of influence among Rai Sikh votes also filed nomination papers as an Independent candidate but his papers were rejected.

He has still not shown inclination towards any party yet but it is believed that since Rai Sikh voters comprise a major chunk of electorate in this constituency, his support is going to play a decisive role in the outcome of elections here.

Apart than these senior party leaders, lots of lower rung leaders and sarpanches have also swithced over their loyalties to other parties.

Earlier scores of senior Congress leaders from this district had announced to submit resignation from party posts in protest against the candidature of Jagmeet Brar who shifted his constituency from Faridkot to Ferozepur.

However, Brar who was being libelled as an "outsider" in this constituency has been able to cajole these displeased congress men to some extent.

He said only those leaders have left Congress who did not enjoy any mass base in this constituency and their exodus will not make any damage to his poll prospects.

District President of Akali Dal, Janmeja Singh Sekhon claimed that in coming days more Congress leaders would join the Dal.

A total of 16 candidates, however, in fray for the May 10 election. Zora Singh Mann (SAD Badal) MP in the dissolved 13th Lok Sabha, Jagmeet Brar (Congress), Dhian Singh Mand (SAD Mann and rebel Akali Dal Inderjit Singh Zira, contesting as an independent, are the key contenders.

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