In quest for power, Akali Dal bets on 42 who lost in 2017

In a seat sharing arrangement with BSP this time, the SAD is contesting on 97 seats and has already announced candidates from 91.

Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal. (File)

After being relegated to its worst tally of 15 seats in the 117-member Vidhan Sabha in 2017, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has once again put its bets on 42 candidates who had lost in the last Assembly election, including 18 who had finished third in their respective constituencies.

At least 20 of its candidates had lost by a margin of less than 1,000 votes in 2017 when the Akali Dal had contested 94 seats in alliance with BJP that fought elections from the remaining 23. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), then a new entrant in the state politics, had upset the political equations, particularly in the Malwa region, emerging as the main opposition party and relegating the Akali Dal to the third position.

In a seat sharing arrangement with BSP this time, the SAD is contesting on 97 seats and has already announced candidates from 91. An analysis of the names announced by party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal reveals that 46.1 per cent of candidates for 2022 polls had lost the previous election while 19.7 per cent of them had finished third.

Prominent among those who had finished third in 2017 and have been given tickets again for 2022 elections include then Youth Akali Dal (YAD) leader Parambans Singh Romana (who is now YAD president and has been again fielded from Faridkot, where Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon of Congress won and AAP nominee Gurdit Singh Sekhon was second);party spokesperson and former minister Daljit Singh Cheema (fielded again from Ropar where Amarjit Sandoa, who contested on AAP ticket, was the winner); former minister Hira Singh Ghabria (fielded again from Ludhiana South, where Balwinder Singh Bains of Lok Insaf Party, was the winner); Mantar Singh Brar (fielded again from Kotkapura, where Kultar Singh Sandhawan of AAP won); a prominent businessman of Bathinda and Hindu face of the party Sarup Chand Singla (again given party ticket from Bathinda where Congress’ Manpreet Badal had won); and Darshan Singh Shivalik, who had finished third from Gill (SC) constituency where Congress’ Kuldeep Singh Vaid registered victory and AAP’s Jeevan Sanghwal finished second.

Teh SAD has announced candidature of four such candidates on new turfs. Parkash Chand Garg who had finished third from Sangrur has been fielded from Dhuri, Harpreet Singh (contested from Bhucho Mandi (SC) in 2017) from Malout (SC), Malkiat Singh (fielded from Baba Bakala (SC) in 2017) will contest from Jandiala (SC), and SR Kler (who contested from Nihal Singh Wala (SC) in 2017) is Akali candidate from Jagraon (SC) for the 2022 polls.

The eight other candidates who ended up on third positions in the 2017 elections and have been again fielded by SAD are Gulzar Singh Moonak (who was close third) from Dirba (SC) constituency; Kabir Das from Nabha (SC); Ranjit Singh Gill from Kharar; Tirath Singh Mahla (close third) from Baghapurana; Nishan Singh (close third) from Budhladha; Ranjit Singh Dhillon (close third) from Ludhiana East; Suba Singh Badal from Jaito; and Barjinder Singh Brar from Moga.

Barjinder Brar’s father, veteran Akali leader and former minister Tota Singh, has also been fielded from Dharamkot where he had lost during the 2017 election.

In change of turfs for four other nominees who lost the 2017 election, SAD has announced former SGPC president, Gobind Singh Longowal from Lehragaga (Longowal had lost the last elections from Sunam to AAP’s Aman Arora); Janmeja Singh Sekhon from Zira (Sekhon had lost from Maur to Jagdev Singh Kamalu of AAP); Darshan Singh Kotfatta, who had lost from Malout (SC), from Bhucho Mandi (SC); and Parkash Singh Bhatti, who had lost in 2017 from Balluana, as party candidate from Bathinda (Rural) in the ensuing elections.

Other prominent faces, former ministers and senior Akali leaders, announced by SAD who lost the election in 2017 include Adaish Pratap Singh Kairon (from Patti); Sikander Singh Maluka (from Rampura Phul); Surjit Singh Rakhra (Samana); Gulzar Singh Ranike (Attari); Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu (Talwandi Sabo); Vir Singh Lopoke (Rajasansi); Sohan Singh Thandal (Chabbewal SC reserved); Gurbachan Singh Babbehali (Gurdaspur); Hardeep Singh Dimpy Dhillon (Gidderbaha); Iqbal Singh Jhundan (Amargarh); Virsa Singh Valtoha (Khemkaran); and Harmeet Singh Sandhu (Tarn Taran).

In alliance with BSP, the SAD is contesting on 97 seats and BSP on 20 seats in the 117-member Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections. SAD is yet to announce candidates on six constituencies, which include Lambi, currently represented by Akali patriarch Parkash Singh Badal.

Barring announcing candidature for Lambi, SAD has announced all other 12 sitting legislators as party candidates in the list of 91. They are Bikram Singh Majithia (Majitha); Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal (who represents Batala and has been announced as party candidate from Fatehgarh Churian); Gurpartap Singh Wadala (Nakodar); Pawan Kumar Tinu (Adampur (SC); Sharanjit Singh Dhillon (Sahnewal); Manpreet Singh Ayali (Dakha); Dilraj Singh Bhunder (Sardulgarh); Kanwarjit Singh Rozy Barkandi (Muktsar); N K Sharma (Dera Bassi); Harinderpal Singh Chandumajra (Sanour); Sukhwinder Sukhi (Banga); and Baldev Singh Khaira as party candidate from Phillaur SC.

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