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Monday, Aug 19, 2019

Lok Sabha Elections 2019: A Badal borough, Bathinda seat tough challenge for Congress

Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Union minister and Shiromani Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal is the sitting MP from Bathinda Lok Sabha constituency in Punjab. She says she has ensured development here and has no reason to shift to another seat in the upcoming general elections.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Feb 28, 2019 16:03 IST
Sachin Kumar
Sachin Kumar
Hindustan Times, Bathinda
Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Bathinda MP and Union food processing industries minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal  inspects progress of construction work on AIIMS building in Bathinda on Thursday, Feb 21, 2019.
Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Bathinda MP and Union food processing industries minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal inspects progress of construction work on AIIMS building in Bathinda on Thursday, Feb 21, 2019.(HT Photo )

Even as the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) faces a tough time in the wake of an internal revolt and backlash over the 2015 sacrilege and police firing incidents, the Congress, in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, faces an uphill task to challenge sitting MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal in the Bathinda constituency, a pocket borough of the Badal family.

Harsimrat Kaur, the Union food processing industries minister, has said she does not find any reason to shift to other constituency as is being speculated, saying she has ensured development here. On the other hand, the Congress is yet to zero in on the probable candidates who can inflict a decisive blow to the former CM’s family in his backyard.

Only two Congress leaders have so far applied for the party ticket, which reflects the party leaders’ nervousness to contest here. Harsimrat has blamed her opponents for spreading rumours of her shifting to the Ferozepur segment.

In 2009, she defeated Raninder Singh, son of present chief minister Amarinder Singh, by a margin of over 1 lakh votes. In 2014, in a close contest, she defeated her estranged brother-in-law Manpreet Singh Badal (now state finance minister), who contested on Congress symbol as a coalition candidate of the Congress and his erstwhile People’s Party of Punjab (PPP), by over 19,000 votes.

SAD appears to be in dilemma as shifting Harsimrat to another segment could a send wrong signal among the party cadres and the voters. In case it decides to shift her somewhere else, the party might hedge its bets by fielding former minister Sikander Singh Maluka.

While the ruling Congress is looking for a prominent face to challenge Harsimrat, Manpreet has said he will contest the Lok Sabha election from here again if the party asked him to do so.

With Raninder not showing much interest in politics, the party may also field Amarinder’s grandson Nirvan Singh, son of his daughter Jaya Inder Kaur. Nirvan is being groomed for the state politics and handles the CM’s social media accounts.

Also, the names of Gidderbaha MLA and former Indian Youth Congress president Amrinder Singh Raja Warring and district Congress president Khushbaz Singh Jatana have also been making the rounds for the same.

To make the contest more interesting, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) rebel and Punjabi Ekta Party (PEP) chief Sukhpal Singh Khaira has also hinted at throwing his hat in the ring. He says the final call will be taken on this after discussion within the party and partners of the Punjab Democratic Alliance (PDA).

Having won five out of nine assembly segments in the parliamentary seat in the 2017 polls, AAP is likely field a local candidate. Though the AAP is learnt to have approached a Punjabi singer and a former Congress leader to contest from here, the two declined the offer keeping in mind the ongoing internal strife within the party. AAP says a local grassroots leader will be its candidate. The organisers of Bargari Morcha have announced to field Gurdeep Singh, general secretary of the United Akali Dal, from the segment.

First Published: Feb 28, 2019 16:00 IST

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