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Political clans to the fore in Punjab, Haryana

All big names in political business — the Chautalas, Lals, Badals, Brars, Gujrals, Amarinders and others — are busy this election season with family members contesting.
PTI | By Indo-Asian News Service, Chandigarh
PUBLISHED ON APR 13, 2004 08:12 PM IST

Leading political families in Punjab and Haryana have a lot at stake in the parliamentary elections with one or more family members vying for electoral honours.

All the big names in the political business in the two states -- the Chautalas, Lals, Badals, Brars, Gujrals, Amarinders and others -- are busy this election season with family members contesting.

It marks the first time that so many candidates from these political clans are in the fray together.

Punjab has 13 Lok Sabha seats while Haryana has 10. Both states go to the polls on May 10.

Leading the clan parade are Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala's two sons, Ajay and Abhay, one contesting from Bhiwani and the other from Kurukshetra in the state.

The brothers are third generation politicians from former deputy prime minister Devi Lal's clan in Haryana.

Their father's Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) recently split from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Close on their heels is Kuldip Bishnoi, son of former chief minister Bhajan Lal, contesting against a Chautala brother from Bhiwani on the Congress ticket.

His political pedigree is pretty solid too, with father Bhajan Lal the state Congress chief and legislator and brother Chander Mohan a legislator from Panchkula.

Also in Bhiwani, in Haryana's Jat belt, is Surender Singh, son of former chief minister Bansi Lal.

While Bhiwani is the hunting ground of political heirs-apparent, there are other sons and daughters in the fray too.

The Congress candidate for the Ambala (reserved) seat is Selja, daughter of former union minister Dalbir Singh, who has her roots in Sirsa district.

Two more names could be added to this list this week in Haryana if Indian Youth Congress (IYC) chief Randeep Singh Surjewala and Naveen Jindal get the Congress ticket.

Surjewala's father Shamsher Singh Surjewala was a one-time strongman in the Haryana Congress and a former MP.

And Naveen Jindal, son of industrialist and Congress leader O.P. Jindal, hogged national headlines a couple of years ago after winning the case in the Supreme Court on the right to fly the national flag.

In Punjab, relatives of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, from Patiala's royal family, and his bete noire Parkash Singh Badal have descended on the electoral battlefield.

Amarinder Singh's wife Preneet Kaur is seeking to be re-elected from Patiala seat.

There are other members from the chief minister's family as well. Congress candidate from Sangrur Arvind Khanna is related to Amarinder Singh through his wife's royal lineage.

His co-brother renegade Akali leader Simranjit Singh Mann is in the fray from Sangrur. Mann and Amarinder's wives are sisters.

Badal's son Sukhbir is vying for the Faridkot seat on the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) ticket. He faces another family member of a former chief minister -- Harcharan Singh Brar's daughter-in-law Karan Brar contesting on the Congress ticket.

In Jalandhar, former chief minister I.K. Gujral's son Naresh Gujral is fighting the election on the SAD ticket.

In Ludhiana, the Congress has fielded former IYC chief Manish Tewari. His father

VN Tewari was a Congress MP from Punjab when Sikh terrorists assassinated him in the early 1980s.

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