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Punjab: In bypoll to Sangrur Lok Sabha seat, AAP faces its first litmus test

The Punjab government has not lost the game of perception and lately the sacking of a minister from Mann’s Cabinet on graft charges has left it in a good stead. The party’s stock is believed to have gone up a few notches further.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh |
Updated: May 28, 2022 9:04:47 am
punjab bypolls sangrur bhagwant mannAAP is hoping that it would be in a comfortable position from Sangrur, a constituency that has supported Mann overwhelmingly, and only recently the state voted in AAP giving it a brute majority of 92 in the 117-member House. (Express File/Praveen Khanna)

With less than a month to go for bypolls to the Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency, the ruling Aam Aadmi Party faces a litmus test as the electoral battle will be its first after the party romped to power in Punjab. The test will be even bigger for Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann who had vacated the Sangrur Lok Sabha seat after being elected to Vidhan Sabha from Dhuri Assembly constituency. In Lok Sabha, AAP had only one MP from Sangrur.

The by-election is scheduled for June 23. Mann is a two-time MP from Sangrur and had won the seat with a huge margin of over 1 lakh votes both the times. Sangrur is considered a bastion of the AAP. The party won all the nine assembly segments — Lehra, Dirba, Barnala, Sunam, Bhadaur, Mehal Kalan, Malerkotla, Dhuri and Sangrur — in the 2022 assembly elections.

The party is hoping that it would be in a comfortable position from Sangrur, a constituency that has supported Mann overwhelmingly, and only recently the state voted in AAP giving it a brute majority of 92 in the 117-member House.

The government has not lost the game of perception and lately the sacking of a minister from Mann’s Cabinet on graft charges has left it in a good stead. The party’s stock is believed to have gone up a few notches further.

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While the party is yet to zero in on a candidate, speculations are rife that it would be Mann’s choice as he holds influence in the area. All eyes are on Mann’s sister Manpreet Kaur, who has been politically active in the constituency. She was also seen holding the fort in Dhuri Assembly segment, a part of Sangrur Lok Sabha seat, when Mann was contesting from there. He was busy campaigning across the state while Manpreet Kaur was campaigning in Dhuri.

Party leaders, however, insist that CM’s sister cannot be a choice. “If she is given the ticket, it will be against the Constitution of the party. AAP stands by its constitution, which is totally averse to dynasty politics. No relative of any leader can be given the ticket,” a leader said.

However, Punjab has already witnessed Dr Baljit Kaur, daughter of former AAP MP from Faridkot, Prof Sadhu Singh being given the ticket during this year’s Assembly elections. She won from the seat and was also inducted in Mann’s Cabinet.

Mann’s sister told the media recently that the party would name the candidate from Sangrur, who would be people’s choice. When asked if she could be given the ticket, she had said, “If” does not mean anything.

Incumbent SSP from Sangrur, Mandeep Singh Sidhu is also a strong contender for the ticket. His hailing the CM from the dais at a recent government function in Sangrur was seen as his bid to please the CM politically. The Opposition had taken a dig at him stating that he was a uniformed officer and he had crossed all the limits.

AAP chief spokesperson Malvinder Singh Kang on Thursday said the party was ready for the Sangrur Lok Sabha bypoll. He said the name of the candidate will be announced by the party’s political affairs committee very soon.

Kang said the AAP government in Punjab had taken “historic” decisions in the last two months.

Meanwhile, BJP leader Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi Thursday said his party is fully prepared to fight the upcoming bypoll to the Sangrur Lok Sabha seat. Sodhi added that the party’s candidate for the bypoll is expected to be announced within a week. He also hit out at the AAP, alleging that there was “zero performance” of the party in the state in the past two months.

Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann has already announced to contest from the seat.
Meanwhile, Congress leaders, including AICC in-charge for Punjab affairs Harish Chaudhary, Punjab Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly Partap Singh Bajwa, PPCC working president Bharat Bhushan Ashu, former minister and former Sangrur MP Vijay Inder Singla and state unit general secretary Sandeep Sandhu, held a meeting on the upcoming bypoll.

“Discussion related to Sangrur Lok Sabha bypoll,” Bajwa said in a tweet.

Warring has already held meetings at Sangrur in the wake of the bypoll.

According to the poll schedule, the polling will take place on June 23 while counting of votes will be held on June 26.

The notification for the bypoll will be issued on May 30 and the last date of filing nominations is June 6. The scrutiny of nominations will be done on June 7, while the last date for the withdrawal of the candidatures is June 9.

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