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Monday, Sep 16, 2019

Anandpur Sahib Lok Sabha seat may see a multi-cornered contest

The proximity of Lok Sabha constituency Anandpur Sahib to the state capital Chandigarh makes it the most sought-after general category seat if the number of applications the ruling Congress has received so far is any indication.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Feb 12, 2019 13:22 IST
Vishal Rambani
Vishal Rambani
Hindustan Times. Anandpur Sahib
Senior Congress leader Ambika Soni, who lost to SAD’s Prem Singh Chandumajra in 2014 Lok Sabha elections,  is reportedly not  too keen to contest this time.
Senior Congress leader Ambika Soni, who lost to SAD’s Prem Singh Chandumajra in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, is reportedly not too keen to contest this time. (HT File )
         

In the last five Lok Sabha elections, voters of Punjab’s Anandpur Sahib constituency have elected the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidates alternately, not giving mandate to the same party for two consecutive terms.

The segment’s proximity to the state capital Chandigarh makes it the most sought-after general category seat if the number of applications the ruling Congress has received so far is any indication.

Also, since the political graph of both the Akalis and the principal opposition party in the state, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), is down, the Congress is looking at the segment as a safe bet.

But it might turn into a multi-cornered contest with SAD (Taksali), the breakaway Akali faction, fielding former assembly deputy speaker Bir Devinder Singh, who has jumped both Congress and Akali ships. The Bargari Insaaf Morcha of Sikh radicals too has nominated Bikramjit Singh Sodhi from the seat to cash in on the strong community sentiment in Anandpur Sahib, which is home to one of five Takhts of Sikhism.

Congress’ dilemma

Too many ticket aspirants have left the ruling Congress weary, and wary. While party president Rahul Gandhi’s mantra of not fielding Rajya Sabha members or their kin can hit prospects of senior leader Ambika Soni, who lost to SAD’s Prem Singh Chandumajra in 2014, she too is not too keen to contest. But Soni will have the final say on who steps into her shoes, if not her son Anoop, a businessman, who she is keen on passing on the baton to.

While Soni is close to former Congress president Sonia Gandhi, a Rahul protege and party’s national spokesman, Jaiveer Shergill, has also applied for the ticket. “I belong to Anandpur Sahib and have worked in the party at various levels,” Jaiveer says. But if the party opts for a Hindu face, former MP Manish Tewari, who had shied away from contesting from his home seat Ludhiana in 2014, may also be accommodated here.

Prem Singh Chandumajra remains ticket frontrunner from SAD for this Lok Sabha seat . He has been busy visiting every nook and corner of the constituency for last five months. The name of SAD chief Sukhbir Badal’s protege, Daljit Cheema, a former minister, is also doing the rounds. Cheema may contest in case Chandumajra is shifted to another seat. But Chandumajra rules out the possibility.

“I have taken up issues pertaining to Punjab in the Lok Sabha and was twice adjudged as the best MP,” he says.

AAP has announced Narinder Singh Shergill, a progressive farmer, as its candidate. “I have been working in the segment for 10 years. I am reaching out personally to each and every voter,” says Narinder Shergill.

First Published: Feb 12, 2019 13:16 IST