While Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has fielded its trusted old horses on most of the seats in Doaba region, barring five new faces, according to the first list announced by the ruling party. The party has announced candidates for all its seats except two in Doaba. It has dropped two sitting MLAs facing inquiries of Enforcement Directorate (ED) against them in synthetic drug case.
There are a total of 23 Assembly segments in Doaba region, which comprises the districts of Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr and Kapurthala. SAD contests on 16 of these seats while its alliance partner BJP contests on seven seats under their seat-sharing formula. SAD has announced candidates on 14 seats, except Bholath and Sham Chaurasi.
In Jalandhar district, which has six seats, SAD has repeated sitting MLAs on three seats of Shahkot, Nakodar and Adampur from where Ajit Singh Kohar (transport minister), Gurpratap Singh Wadala and Pawan Kumar Tinu respectively have been fielded. The party has fielded new faces for Phillaur and Kartapur. Former BSP leader Baldev Singh Khaira has been given ticket from Phillaur while former Congress leader Seth Satpal Mall has been chosen for Kartarpur. Both joined SAD recently and have replaced sitting SAD MLAs Sarwan Singh Phillaur from Kartarpur and Avinash Chnader from Phiallaur constituency. Sarwan Singh Phillaur is a former minister. Both Phillaur and Chnader were summoned by the ED in connection with a drugs case.
From Jalandhar Cantt, which was vacated by former SAD MLA Pargat Singh, the party has fielded its old party hand Sarabjit Singh Makkar, who contested earlier from Adampur in 2002 and won the seat and then in Kapurthala in 2007 and lost. Makkar was a surprise for party leaders too because an NRI and president of Youth Akali Dal (Doaba Zone) Sarabjot Singh Sabi were being seen as potential candidates.
In Nawanshahr district, which has three Assembly seats, the party has fielded two new candidates – Jarnail Singh Wahid from Nawanshahr and Dr Sukhwinder Singh Sukhi from Banga. In the third seat of Balachuar, the party has retained its trusted veteran and sitting MLA Chaudhary Nand Lal.
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In Kapurthala district, a new face, Paramjit Singh Pamma, has been fielded from Kapurthala while old veteran Dr Upinderjit Kaur has been fielded from Sultanpur Lodhi. Due to her old age, the 75-year-old Kaur, a former minister, was not being expected as a SAD candidate this time. The party was reportedly considering Swaran Singh, her the son-in-law who had even resigned from his post of senior executive engineer in the power department sometime back. Kaur is a three-time MLA, winning in 1997, 2002 and 2007. She was the first woman finance minister in the state during the last SAD tenure. She is an MA (economics) from the Delhi School of Economics and a PHD in same subject from Sydney.
In Kapurthala district, no name has been announced for Bholath seat, from where former SGPC president and sitting SAD MLA Bibi Jagir Kaur has been contesting for the last two decades. Because of her conviction in a case of abduction and forcible abortion of her daughter Harpreet Kaur, she spent seven months in jail and now is out on bail. One of her family members may get the SAD ticket.
In Hoshiarpur district, SAD announced candidates on three out of the four seats in SAD’s share. The party has repeated its candidates from Chabbelwal (minister Sohan Singh Thandal), Garhshankar (Surinder Singh Bhullewal Rathan) and Urmur Tanda (Arvinder Singh Rassolpur). The party has not yet announced its candidate from Sham Chaurasi constituency from where SAD’s sitting MLA and former minister Mohinder Kaur Josh has been facing huge opposition from her own party leaders.