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Friday, January 21, 2022

Political lines blur as AAP declares candidates’ list

🔴 Around three dozen candidates were previously with the Congress or SAD.

Written by Kamaldeep Singh Brar | Amritsar |
Updated: January 14, 2022 10:40:01 am
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal addresses a press conference in Mohali. (PTI)

With dates for the Assembly elections announced and parties in a hurry to finalise their candidates, political boundaries have begun to blur in the border state of Punjab. Amit Rattan, the SAD (Badal) candidate from the Bathinda Rural in the last Assembly polls, is now fighting from the same seat but on an AAP ticket. And AAP MLA Rupinder Ruby, who had emerged the winner in the last contest, shifted her loyalty to the ruling Congress last year.

In this season of musical chairs, an analysis by The Indian Express of AAP’s list of candidates — Congress and BJP are yet to declare theirs — has found that almost three dozen of them have come from other parties in the last two years. The induction of turncoats into the party has caused much anger in some sections of the party. Jalandhar, for instance, saw tempers flare on the issue of “outsiders”.

However, for some leaders, it’s been ‘ghar wapsi’. Take the case of Punjabi singer Balkar Singh, who contested as an independent from Talwandi Sabo after being rejected by the party over allegations of human trafficking, rejoined AAP in May 2020 and is now a party candidate from Rampura Phul.

Others have just shifted their party while retaining their constituency. This is true of Sukhjinder Singh Lalli Majithia, who quit Congress to join Aam Aadmi Party last month. Lalli Majithia will be contesting against Akali leader Bikram Majithia from the Majitha constituency.

AAP’s Punjab co-incharge Raghav Chadha had tweeted, “Majitha constituency in Punjab is usually a FIXED MATCH with a compromise candidate against Bikram Majithia by Congress and to return the favor a weaker candidate given by SAD against Capt Saab. Not any more! AAP fields a political stalwart Lali Majithia, a force to reckon with (SIC).”

But Lalli Majithia contested from Majitha on a Congress ticket in 2007 and 2017 and as an independent in 2012. He lost on all three occasions against Bikram Majithia.

Former SAD leader and Mohali mayor, Kulwant Singh, joined AAP last month and is now the party’s candidate from Mohali. Though now a real estate baron, he is said to have started off as an aam aadmi and worked his way up.

For many, entry into AAP has been a quantum leap of sorts. Gurmeet Singh Khudian was the covering candidate for Captain Amarinder Singh from Lambi constituency in 2017. He is now the AAP candidate from the same constituency.

Jagroop Singh Gill, who claimed that he was promised the mayorship of Bathinda by Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, joined AAP after being overlooked for the chair following the local bodies elections last year. Now, he will be fighting for the assembly seat from Bathinda.

And there is Ranjit Singh Rana, a Congress candidate from Bholath in 2017, who is now an AAP candidate from the same seat.

AAP candidates Karambir (Dasuya), Narinder Sawana (Fazilka), and Madan Lal (Ludhiana North) are among those who have switched over from SAD, while Brahmashankar Zip (Hoshiarpur), Lalit Mohan Pathak (Nawanshehar) and Santoshj Kataria (Balachaur) joined the party after quitting Congress last year. Raman Arora, the party candidate from Jalandhar Central, shifted from Congress as late as December last year. Kuljit Sigh Sarhal, the AAP candidate from Banga, also moved from Akali Dal in October last year.

It’s tickets to these new entrants that has sparked off a rebellion among party workers who had been vying for Assembly seats. While party supremo Arvind Kejriwal has been warning workers against nursing such ambitions, young rebels are said to be approaching other new

parties for a ticket. Many of them are looking at Sanyukat Samaj Morcha, which has little time to finalise its candidates for all the 117 seats.

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