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Rebellion may cost Akalis heavily in Sangrur

The Akali citadel will witness a triangular contest between Dhindsa, Mann and Cong's Arvind Khanna.
PTI | By Press Trust of India, Sangrur
PUBLISHED ON APR 11, 2004 02:39 PM IST

Riding on the growing rebellion among Akalis, the Congress is confident of winning the Sangrur Lok Sabha seat.

The citadel of Akalis will witness a triangular contest between SAD nominee and Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, SAD (Amritsar) supremo Simranjit Singh Mann, an MP in the dissolved House and Congress nominee Arvind Khanna, an MLA and a known philanthropist running his voluntary organisation Umeed Khanna Foundation.

CPM (Punjab) nominee Sukhdev Singh Bari and BSP nominee Mangat Rai Bansal have also started campaigning though the process of filing of nominations is to commence on April 16.

Mann is working hard to retain the seat while Dhindsa is moving from pillar to post to win the seat again for his party, led by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who is leaving no stone unturned to bring an end to the intense infighting and differences in the rank and file.

Badal had parleys recently with Dhindsa's arch rival Surjit Singh Barnala the Governor of Andhra Pradesh and his wife Surjit Kaur at their residence to bury the hatchet.

Surjit Kaur reportedly opposed Dhindsa's candidature accusing him for the defeat of Barnala in 1999 LS elections.

Despite campaigning by Badal the dissidence against Dhindsa does not seem to have died down. His own lieutenant Parkash Chand Garg, former Chairman Punjab Land Reclamation and Development Corporation (PLRDC), refused to campaign with the rebel former minister Ranjit Singh Balian who recently rejoined the party.

Similarly, Barnala's protege Baldev Singh Mann, General Secretary SAD, refused to campaign with Dhindsa's supporter former Administrative Member of PSEB Gurbachan Singh Bachi.

Baldev accused Bachi of being instrumental in the defeat of Barnala in 1999 Lok Sabha elections and for his loss in last assembly elections from Dirba seat, a segment of Sangrur seat.

The reinstatement of Bachi, who was expelled by Badal from the party for life time for opposing Mann, was treated by Barnala faction as rubbing of salt on their wounds.

He accuses Dhindsa for his dismal performance as partner in the NDA government to press for long pending demands of Punjab.

Mann also accuses Dhindsa for step motherly treatment in distributing MPLAD grants and his failure to set up any industrial project to create employment avenues.

The sudden announcement of Congress ticket to Khanna despite the Chief Minister's repeated denials caused flutter in the Akali vote bank.

Khanna's candidature was welcomed by all the splinter groups of the Congress for his sizeable influence due to his voluntary organisation's free medical assistance at doorstep in about 500 villages besides work in fields of women empowerment and education and skills development training to the rural poor.

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