Lok Sabha polls: Race for Bathinda ticket picks up in Congresshttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ludhiana/lok-sabha-polls-race-for-bathinda-ticket-picks-up-in-congress-5579138/

Lok Sabha polls: Race for Bathinda ticket picks up in Congress

Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal, who had contested Lok Sabha elections in 2014 from Bathinda, has not shown keen interest in contesting this time.

SAD leader and Union Minister Harsimrat Badal.
SAD leader and Union Minister Harsimrat Badal.

With 2019 Lok Sabha polls inching closer, the ticket race for the high-profile Bathinda seat, which is represented by SAD leader and Union Minister Harsimrat Badal, has picked up in the Congress. In the state’s ruling party, ticket aspirants for the seat include state Health Minister Brahm Mohindra’s son, Mohit Mohindra, while the name of CM Amarinder Singh’s grandson, Nirvan Singh, is also doing the rounds as someone the party might consider. Nirvan, however, hasn’t formally applied for the ticket.

Harsimrat had first contested from Bathinda in 2009 and defeated Capt Amarinder Singh’s son Raninder Singh with a huge margin of more than 1.2 lakh of votes. In 2014, Harsimrat defeated her brother-in- law Manpreet Singh Badal, who had contested on a Congress symbol with a reduced victory margin of 19,000 votes. The SAD leader has denied rumours of shifting to another Lok Sabha seat for the 2019 battle.

Congress, meanwhile, has got four applications for the seat. Apart from Mohit Mohindra, the other applicants are Raj Lambardar, Bhupinder Singh Gora and Jaswant Singh Fafde Bhaike. Gora and Lambardar, who is a PPCC general secretary, are both Congress leaders from Maur. Jaswant Singh hails from Mansa and was the deputy Speaker of Punjab in the SAD government led by Surjeet Singh Barnala.

From Progressive democratic alliance(PDA), Sukhpal Khaira is seeking a ticket from Bathinda. Meanwhile, Gurdeep Singh Bathinda has already been declared as a candidate by the United Akali Dal under the banner of ‘Bargari Morcha’. His name was announced last week by parallel Jathedar Dhian Singh Mand himself.

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About fighting from Bathinda, Khaira said: “If my party is keen on fielding me, I am ready to contest from Bathinda. However, the party is yet to take a final call.”

Bathinda parliamentary constituency consists of nine Vidhan Sabha constituencies — Bathinda Urban, Bathinda Rural, Talwandi Sabo, Maur, Bhucho Mandi, Mansa, Sardulgarh, Budhlada and Lambi . At present Congress has two MLAs out of these nine seats — Manpreet Badal (Bathinda Urban) and Preet Singh Kotbhai (Bhucho Mandi); SAD has two — former CM Parkash Singh Badal (Lambi) and Dilraj Singh Bhunder (Sardulgarh). The rest five seats are with AAP, which is battling Khaira’s exit.

A Congress leader said: “Mohit Mohindra is trying to play a card of a Hindu face as so far Sikh candidates have been given tickets from Bathinda….He was also given Bathinda Lok Sabha area to work on for the past one year.”

Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal, who had contested Lok Sabha elections in 2014 from Bathinda, has not shown keen interest in contesting this time.

Sources said that Amarinder’s grandson, Nirvan Singh (his daughter’s son), could be fielded. At the moment, he handles party’s social media affairs, and hasn’t applied.

Mohit Mohindra said,” I am the youngest applicant so far as I am just 28. I have been looking after Bathinda parliamentary seat for the past one year as I was made Youth Congress in-charge for Bathinda seat. Apart from this, I am general secretary Punjab Youth Congress for the past two years. I feel that young faces should be given chance and I have done my homework well before applying from this most sought after seat of Punjab.”