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Major political outfits banking on ‘senior’ leaders in Punjab
The major political parties in Punjab, including Shiromani Akali Dal, BJP and Congress, have reposed their faith in ‘senior’ leaders to win seats even though a majority of the electors in the state are below the age of 49 years.
Of the total 1.70 crore electors in Punjab, at least 1.34 crore voters are below the age of 49, as per the latest Election Commission data. When it came to allocation of tickets, however, the political outfits seemed to have given preference to leaders who are over 50 years of age.
Of the total 26 candidates announced by the ruling SAD-BJP and Congress, only six are below 50 years of age.
While BJP has picked three contestants —— for the Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur Lok Sabha seats —— in the 50-plus age bracket, Congress and SAD have pinned hopes on three candidates each who are less than 50 years of age.
Punjab is going to polls on April 30 with SAD and BJP contesting 10 and three seats, respectively. Congress has fielded candidates in 12 seats, leaving the high-profile Bathinda Lok Sabha seat for Peoples Party of Punjab (PPP) supremo Manpreet Singh Badal (51), an estranged nephew of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
The 47-year-old Harsimrat Kaur, daughter-in-law of Badal and wife of Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, is seeking re-election from her Bathinda seat.
Local SAD MLA Pawan Kumar Tinu (47) will slug it out in the Jalandhar (reserve) seat. Another SAD legislator, Manpreet Singh Ayali (39), is to contest from the Ludhiana seat.
In the Congress list, sitting MP Vijay Inder Singla (42) is seeking re-election from Sangrur whereas Anandpur Sahib MP Ravneet Singh Bittu (39), the grandson of former chief minister the late Beant Singh, has been named for the electoral battle in Ludhiana.
Another below 50 Congress candidate is former militant Harminder Singh Gill (49) in Khadoor Sahib. Gill had given Cabinet minister Adaish Partap Singh Kairon (SAD) a run for his money in the 2012 Assembly polls, losing by a slender margin of 59 votes.
BJP, which is banking on the (Narendra) ‘Modi factor’ in the state, is also betting big on experienced leaders.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley (61) is contesting from Amritsar in one of the biggest electoral battles in the state against former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh (72) of Congress.
First-timer Vijay Sampla (52), who has been the state BJP vice-president since 1997, has been put up as the party’s candidate for the Hoshiarpur (reserve) seat.
Bollywood actor-turned-politician and former MP Vinod Khanna (67) will cross swords with Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa (57) for the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat.