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Ludhiana gears up for 5-cornered electoral tussle: At stake, 14 seats & prestige

In 2017, then alliance partners Shiromani Akali Dal and the Bhartiya Janata Party had suffered a rout winning between them only one of the 14 constituencies while Congress lapped up 8. With equations having changed, both the parties will look to reverse the trend in 2022

Written by Divya Goyal | Ludhiana |
Updated: December 14, 2021 9:43:09 am
Bharat Bhushan Ashu, cabinet minister and MLA Ludhiana west, with Punjab Congress leadership during a rally in Ludhiana. (Express photo)

After facing a rout in Ludhiana in 2017 as allies, the Assembly election in Punjab in 2022 will be a battle of prestige for Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) — but this time as rivals. In Ludhiana, which has 14 Assembly constituencies — the maximum in a district in Punjab — the alliance could win only one seat — Sahnewal (SAD) in 2017.

Riding high on the anti-incumbency wave, considering that the alliance was in power for two consecutive terms beginning 2007, and anger against the Badals over the sacrilege issue, the Congress lapped up eight seats in 2017, followed by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that got three and the Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) which won two seats . In some constituencies, the Akali candidates were pushed to the third position, behind the AAP. In 2017, the AAP had contested the Punjab polls in alliance with the LIP. The alliance ended after AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal apologized to Akali Dal ledaer Bikram Majithia over his drug remarks.

Seat-wise result 2017

In 2019, the SAD managed to increase its tally in the district to two after it won the bypoll to Dakha Assembly constituency, which was necessitated following resignation of HS Phoolka who had won the 2017 polls as AAP candidate.

This time, however, Ludhiana is expected to witness an intense political battle, which is likely to get five-cornered with SAD and BJP and LIP and AAP parting ways. While SAD has announced its candidates from most of the seats, its new ally, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), will contest from reserved Payal and Raikot constituencies.


A look at the political scene of Ludhiana for Punjab polls 2022:

Maheshinder Grewal- SAD candidate from Ludhiana west (File)

Ludhiana West
MLA: Bharat Bhushan Ashu (Congress)

An urban constituency with a mix of Hindu and Sikh voters, it is represented by Punjab Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu, a two-time MLA from here. A three-time councillor in Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, Ashu first won Assembly polls in 2012. He was inducted in former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s Cabinet in 2018 as Food Minister. In 2017, Ashu had defeated AAP’s Ahbaab Grewal. In 2012, he had defeated nearest rival, BJP’s Rajinder Bhandari.

For 2022, SAD has announced former minister Maheshinder Singh Grewal as its candidate from Ludhiana West, a seat which was with BJP when it was SAD’s ally. Grewal had won from Ludhiana West the only time in 1997. He had switched to Payal in 2007, and lost. He also lost the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Ludhiana to Congress’ Ravneet Singh Bittu.

Ludhiana East
MLA: Sanjay Talwar (Congress)

In 2017, the Congress had registered a surprise win as it bet on first-timer Sanjay Talwar after denying the ticket to former union minister Manish Tewari (now an MP). For 2022 polls, the SAD has renominated Ranjit Singh Dhillon, who faced defeat in 2017. Daljit Bhola Grewal, a former Congressman who contested on AAP ticket in 2017, has again been fielded by the Arvind Kejriwal-led party.

Ludhiana North
MLA: Rakesh Pandey (Congress)

Bastion of six-time Congress MLA Rakesh Pandey, BJP used to contest this seat in alliance with the SAD, which has now announced RD Sharma from the seat. A former deputy mayor of Ludhiana, Sharma switched from BJP to SAD during the agitation against the farm laws. Madan Lal Bagga, a former SAD leader, is the AAP candidate. In 2007, Bagga was with Congress and after being denied ticket from Ludhiana North, he contested as independent and lost. He then moved to SAD but was denied ticket in 2017, as the seat went to BJP. He again contested independent and lost. He joined AAP this year.

MLA Simarjeet Singh Bains (File Photo)

Atam Nagar
MLA: Simarjeet Singh Bains (Lok Insaf Party)

Represented by Lok Insaf Party (LIP) chief Simarjeet Singh Bains, a two-time MLA, Atam Nagar is headed for interesting poll battle with SAD announcing advocate and former MLA Harish Rai Dhanda as its candidate. Dhanda is the counsel of the woman who has filed rape case against Bains. Previously, he had won once from Ludhiana West in 2007.

Once Bains’ close aide when both were in Akali Dal and now arch rivals, Kamaljit Singh Karwal is expected to get Congress ticket. A former Congress leader, Kulwant Singh Sidhu, has been fielded by AAP ticket. In 2014 and 2019, Bains also contested Lok Sabha polls from Ludhiana but lost.

Ludhiana South
MLA: Balwinder Singh Bains (Lok Insaf Party)

The seat is represented by two-time MLA Balwinder Singh Bains of Lok Insaf Party. He is the elder brother of Atam Nagar MLA Simarjeet Singh Bains. The Akali Dal has given ticket to former MLA Hira Singh Gabria again, who had lost from the seat in 2017.

Ludhiana Central
MLA: Surinder Dawar (Congress)

Three-time MLA Congress’ Surinder Dawar had defeated BJP’s Gurdev Sharma Debi and Lok Insaf Party’s Vipan Sood Kaka in 2017. With SAD-BJP parting ways this time, Akali Dal has fielded first-timer Pritpal Singh Pali, president of Gurdwara Dukhnivaran Sahib’s management committee for 2022. Recently, police booked Pali for allegedly uttering derogatory words against Valmiki community during a speech for which he had later apologized.

MLA: Gurkirat Kotli (Congress)

The seat is represented by two-time MLA Gurkirat Kotli, who is also the Minister for Industry & Commerce in the Punjab Cabinet led. Grandson of former Punjab CM late Beant Singh, Kotli twice defeated SAD’s Ranjit Singh Talwandi, son of Akali stalwart late Jagdev Singh Talwandi. This time SAD has given ticket to first-timer Jasdeep Kaur, wife of Youth Akali Dal (YAD) leader Yadwinder Singh Yadu, who is booked in at least 14 criminal cases, including murder. Recently the Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissed Yadu’s plea in which he sought a stay on his conviction in a case, so that he could contest Punjab polls.

Gill (Reserved)
MLA: Kuldip Singh Vaid (Congress)

Former bureaucrat Kuldip Singh Vaid won his first election from Gill in 2017 on Congress ticket. While Congress is yet to announce the tickets, the SAD has again trusted former MLA Darshan Singh Shivalik as its candidate for 2022. Shivalilk had lost to Vaid in 2017, but had defeated Congress’ Malkit Singh Dakha in 2012. In 2017, SAD was pushed to number three as AAP’s Jiwan Singh Sanghowal polled more votes than Shivalik.

MLA: Sharanjit Singh Dhillon (SAD)

Sahnewal was the only saving grace for Akali Dal in 2017 after Sharanjit Singh Dhillon won the seat for a second consecutive term, defeating Congress candidate and Punjabi singer Satwinder Kaur Bitti and AAP’s youth leader and advocate Harjot Singh Bains. The former cabinet minister and two-time MLA, Dhillon has again been given SAD ticket for 2022.

MLA: Manpreet Singh Ayali (SAD)

Harvinder Singh Phoolka, a senior advocate of Supreme Court known for fighting cases for 1984 anti-Sikh riots victims and other human rights issues, had won from this rural constituency as AAP candidate in 2017 trouncing SAD’s Manpreet Singh Ayali and Congress’ Major Singh Bhaini. However, in 2019 Phoolka resigned as MLA and eventually from AAP, “in protest against inaction in sacrilege cases by Congress government”. In 2019 bypoll, SAD’s Ayali defeated Capt Amarinder Singh’s former political secretary Captain Sandeep Sandhu, taking SAD’s tally in Ludhiana to two seats. Securing just 2,804 votes, AAP’s Amandeep Singh Mohie had lost his security deposit in the bypoll. SAD has again pitched Ayali from Dakha. A moneybag candidate with huge real estate empire, recently there were Income Tax raids at Ayali’s residence and offices, which he had termed as “political vendetta”. Ayali had also unsuccessfully contested Lok Sabha polls from Ludhiana in 2014.

Payal (Reserved)
MLA: Lakhvir Singh Lakha (Congress)

The seat is represented by Lakhvir Singh Lakha who once worked as personal assistant of Tej Prakash Singh, son of former Punjab CM Beant Singh and father of Khanna MLA Gurkirat Kotli. Tej Prakash Singh, a former minister, had won from Payal in 2002 and 2007. Family’s ancestral village Kotla Afghana falls in Payal and Beant Singh had started his political career after winning from Payal in 1969 as an independent candidate. In 2012, Lakha had lost to SAD’s Charanjit Singh Atwal, a former Punjab Assembly Speaker. Atwal, a senior Akali leader from Dalit community, did not contest from Payal in 2017 and Lakha won defeating AAP’s Gurpreet Lapran and SAD’s Isher Singh Meharban.

AAP has announced Manwinder Singh Giaspura as Payal candidate for 2022. A former Lok Insaf Party (LIP) leader, Giaspura had unsuccessfully contested Lok Sabha polls from Fatehgarh Sahib in 2019.
BSP has announced Dr Jaspreet Singh Beeja, a BAMS doctor, as its candidate for 2022.

Raikot (Reserved)
MLA: Jagtar Singh Hissowal (elected on AAP ticket, now in Congress)

Amid an AAP wave in this rural constituency, artist Jagtar Singh Hissowal had trounced two political veterans — Amar Singh Boparai of Congress and Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal of SAD. Recently, Hissowal switched to Congress after praising CM Charanjit Singh Channi as ‘real aam aadmi’ and created a history of sorts by crossing over to the treasury benches and joining Congress MLAs when Vidhan Sabha session was in progress. Later he formally joined Congress in presence of Channi and party chief Navjot Singh Sidhu at a rally in Moga.
None of the parties have announced their candidate from Raikot for 2022.

MLA: Amrik Singh Dhillon (Congress)

Amrik Singh Dhillon, who represent the seat, has won time four times from this rural constituency — 1997, 2002, 2012 and 2017. In 2007, he had lost to SAD’s Jagjiwan Singh. In 2017, he had defeated AAP’s Harbans Singh Manki and SAD’s Santa Singh Umaidpur. A former SGPC member and SAD leader, Manki had joined AAP in protest against sacrilege and Behbal Kalan police firing incidents.
This time it’s going to be contest within the family from Samrala. For 2022, SAD has announced Paramjeet Singh Dhillon (40) as its candidate. A former Congress leader, he had joined the SAD in 2016 but did not contest in 2017. His grandfather is the brother of incumbent MLA.

Punjab news, Punjab AAP, Punjab aap mla attacked, Punjab woman MLA attacked Sarvjit Kaur Manuke (Express photo)

Jagraon — (Reserved)
MLA: Sarvjit Kaur Manuke (AAP)

A former school teacher, and now deputy Leader of Opposition in Vidhan Sabha, Sarvjit Kaur Manuke from AAP had defeated Congress candidate Malkit Singh Dakha and SAD’s Amarjit Kaur Sahoke from this rural seat in 2017. However, this time SAD has announced its former Jagraon MLA SR Kaler, a former bureaucrat, as its candidate for 2022. Kaler had won from Jagraon in 2012 but in 2017, party had shifted him to Nihal Singh Wala of Moga where he faced crushing defeat and was placed third after AAP and Congress.

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