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Sangrur braces for brutal LS bypoll as all parties bring out the big guns

There had been talk of a consensus candidate earlier in Sangrur, with slain singer Sidhu Moosewala's father Balkaur Singh's name also floated – putting, briefly, the Aam Aadmi Party, for which it is a prestige fight, in consternation.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Sangrur |
Updated: June 6, 2022 2:26:37 am
Kewal Dhillon met union Home minister Amit Shah on Saturday; Dalvir Singh Goldy while interacting with voters of his area

THE BYPOLL for the Sangrur Lok Sabha seat, vacated by Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann, is set to be a five-corner fight, with the Congress and BJP also declaring their candidates. Both the new names have contested, and lost, against Mann before.

There had been talk of a consensus candidate earlier in Sangrur, with slain singer Sidhu Moosewala’s father Balkaur Singh’s name also floated – putting, briefly, the Aam Aadmi Party, for which it is a prestige fight, in consternation.

Eventually, as nominations close, there are five candidates in the race: AAP’s Gurmel Singh; SAD (Amritsar)’s Simranjit Singh Mann; Akali Dal’s Kamaldeep Kaur Rajoana; and now the Congress’s Dalvir Singh ‘Goldy’ and the BJP’s Kewal Dhillon.

While the Akali Dal had also floated the idea of Panthic parties together fielding a family member of Sikh political prisoners languishing in jail as a candidate, Simranjit Singh had ignored the appeal. The Akali Dal then went ahead and fielded Kamaldeep, the sister of one such prisoner, Balwant Singh Rajoana, a convict in the Beant Singh assassination.

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A former student leader, Congress candidate Goldy lost to Bhagwant Mann from the Dhuri Assembly seat in the recent polls. In the 2017 polls, he had won the Dhuri seat for the Congress.

A two-time MLA (2007, 2012 from Barnala), BJP candidate Dhillon is a known industrialist and was considered a confidant of former Congress CM Amarinder Singh. In the 2017 Assembly polls, he lost to AAP’s Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer by a narrow margin of 2,432 votes. He contested in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Sangrur, where he lost to Bhagwant Mann by 1.10 lakh votes.

While Amarinder is now an ally of the BJP, Dhillon joined the BJP on Saturday, and was named the Sangrur candidate the day after. He was expelled from the Congress in February for “anti-party activities” after he was denied an Assembly ticket from Barnala. The replacement candidate, former Union minister Pawan Bansal’s son Manish Bansal, had finished a poor third.
With Sangrur won by Bhagwant Mann the last two times (2014 and 2019) by huge margins, it is a battle AAP will be desperate not to lose. It is also the first election it will face in Punjab after its landslide victory in the state, and the results could be seen as a vote on its government’s performance, which has been hit by a series of setbacks since taking over.

Apart from the anger over Moosewala’s killing, soon after the security to him was pruned, anger has been brewing in Sangrur over jobs, reflected in constant protests.

In the 2022 Assembly polls, AAP had won all the nine segments falling in the Sangrur Lok Sabha seat, with huge margins. This included Bhadaur, from where AAP’s first-timer Labh Singh Uggoke defeated then Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi.

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First published on: 05-06-2022 at 10:28:28 pm

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