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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Every third Akali Dal candidate a new face, 23 to contest first time

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal has announced 91 candidates so far for the upcoming Punjab Assembly election, 27 of whom are new faces

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh |
Updated: December 8, 2021 8:55:10 am
Sukhbir, meanwhile, urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce transfer of Chandigarh and Punjabi speaking areas to Punjab during his visit on January 5. (Express Archives)

An ex-soldier of the Indian Army, who drove a truck packed with ammunition to Kargil in 1999 from his unit in Kanpur. A political activist who was named Winnerjit by his parents. They are among 23 first-time Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidates announced by party president Sukhbir Singh Badal for the Punjab Assembly election scheduled for early 2022.

Sukhbir has announced 91 candidates so far for the upcoming polls that the SAD will fight in alliance with the Mayawati-headed Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). The Akali Dal and the BSP will contest 97 and 20 seats respectively for the election to the 117-member Punjab Assembly.

The Akali Dal has also fielded for the time four others who had earlier contested state polls but as candidates of other parties. So, of the 27 new faces announced by the SAD so far, 23 will contest the Assembly election for the first time. This means that 29.6 per cent of the party nominees are fresh faces and for 25.2 per cent of them, it will be maiden outing in Assembly polls.

A majority of the first-timer candidates come from families which have been with the Akali Dal as part of its rank and file.

The Akali candidate from Nihal Singh Wala, Baldev Singh Manuke, is one among them. Hailing from Maunke village in Moga district, Baldev said his family had been associated with the Akali Dal for a long time. An ex-serviceman, Baldev, 63, retired in 2003 as Havildar and has been fielded by the SAD from the Scheduled Caste-reserved constituency.

“My family remained associated with the Akali Dal for years. My father Jarnail Singh was a contemporary of (Akali patriarch and five-term chief minister) Parkash Singh Badal. I am the first from my family to contest Vidhan Sabha elections,” said Baldev, adding that before his promotion as Havildar he “drove a truckload of ammunition to Kargil in 1999 from 11 Sikh Light Infantry base in Kanpur where he served”.
Another first-time Akali candidate is Winnerjit Singh, who will contest from Sangrur. Winnerjit, 46, has degrees in mechanical engineering and MBA.

He said he has been associated with the Akali Dal for 25 years and has done stints as Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) director and Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) vice chairman during the previous SAD-led government. These were political appointments.

“During my stint as PRTC vice chairman, Rs 150 crore worth arrears were paid to the employees and 550 new buses were added to the fleet. The per day receipts of PRTC increased from Rs 65 lakh in 2015, when I took over, to Rs 1.25 crore by March 2017,” he said.

Asked about his unique name, the Akali leader said his parents had decided that if they had a girl they will name her Irwin and if they had boy, his name will be Winnerjit.

Rajanbir Singh is another new face fielded by the Akali Dal. Granted ticket from Sri Hargobindpur, Rajanbir had resigned from the Punjab Fisheries department to work for the SAD in 2018.

Advocate Satnam Singh Rahi, the SAD candidate from Bhadaur of Barnala district, is also going to contest the polls for the first time. His grandfather Giani Gurbaksh Singh Rahi was a freedom fighter and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC( executive member. His father Harpal Inder Singh Rahi had been a SAD vice president.

The Akali Dal has fielded Jasdeep Kaur from Khanna. Her husband Yadwinder Singh Yadu, also an Akali Dal leader, has been named in 14 FIRs. He had moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking permission to contest the polls, but the plea was dismissed following which his wife was given the ticket, who will also be a first-timer in the electoral fray.

President of Ludhiana’s Gurdwara Dukhnivaran Sahib, Pritpal Singh, is another first-timer contesting from the Ludhiana Central constituency. Recently, he was booked by the Ludhiana police for allegedly hurting sentiments of a community by uttering some objectionable words.

Others testing waters for first time

-Bachittar Singh Kohar (Grandson of late Akali leader and former MLA Ajit Singh Kohar) – Shahkot

-Talbir Singh Gill – Amritsar South

-Hardev Singh Megh – Balluana (SC reserved constituency)

-Senior YAD leader Sarabjot Singh Sabi – Mukerian

-Kulwant Singh Keetu – Barnala

-Rohit Kumar Montu Vohra – Ferozepur Urban

-Guriqbal Singh Mahal – Qadian

-Ravikaran Singh Kalhon (son of former Speaker of Vidhan Sabha Nirmal Singh Kahlon) – Dera Baba Nanak

-Captain Harminder Singh (switched from Congress) – Sultanpur Lodhi

-Paramjit Singh Dhillon – Samrala

-R D Sharma (former Ludhiana deputy mayor who switched from BJP) – Ludhiana North

-Prem Kumar Arora – Mansa

-Harpal Juneja – Patiala Urban

-Jaspal Singh Chatha – Patiala Rural

-Charanjit Brar (senior Akali activist) – Rajpura

-Raj Kumar Gupta (switched from BJP) – Sujanpur

-Sunita Chaudhary (Daughter in law of late Nand Lal Chaudhary, the former Akali MLA) – Balachaur

Others who had contested Assembly elections earlier, but contesting on SAD ticket for the first time

Anil Joshi (switched from BJP) – Amritsar North

Jagmeet Brar (switched from Congress) – Maur

Hans Raj Josan (switched from Congress) – Fazilka

Mohinder Singh Rinwa (switched from Congress) Abohar

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