The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Friday announced the name of its Talwandi Sabo MLA, Baljinder Kaur, as the candidate from the Bathinda Lok Sabha constituency.
Bathinda is going to be one of the most watched constituency in Punjab with Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal likely to be one of the contestants from the seat, which is currently being represented by her. However, the SAD as well as the Congress are yet to announce the names of their candidates from Bathinda and there is some speculation that Harsimrat may shift to Ferozepur.
Former Leader of Opposition from AAP, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, who resigned from the party to form his own Punjab Ekta Party (PEP), has also announced his candidature from Bathinda and is already campaigning in the villages of the constituency.
Baljinder Kaur is a postgraduate in English and had a stint as a teacher at a college in Fatehgarh Sahib, before joining AAP ahead of the 2017 state assembly polls. She had defeated Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Khushbaz Singh Jattana of the Congress in the 2017 assembly polls. Click here for more election news
However, the candidature of Kaur may run into trouble as she is facing allegations of dual vote registration from Talwandi Sabo constituency. In February 2018, a probe by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate and Returning Officer of Talwandi Sabo had indicted her for having two votes and for having hidden this information. The matter has been vested with the Deputy Commissioner-cum-district returning officer of Bathinda for further action.
Baljinder Kaur had won her assembly seat by a handsome margin polling 54,553 votes as compared to 35,260 votes of the Congress candidate and 34,473 votes of the Akali candidate. With her candidature, the party has now announced candidates for 11 constituencies of the state. Two more – Ludhiana and Khadoor Sahib – seats are remaining.
Out of the nine assembly constituencies that form part of the Bathinda parliamentary constituency, Maur and Mansa are represented by rebel AAP MLAs. Jagdev Singh Kamalu from Maur and Nazar Singh Manshahia from Mansa have pledged their support to Sukhpal Khaira and are actively helping him in his campaign. However, they have not officially joined his party yet.
Out of the other assembly constituencies, Budhlada is represented by AAP MLA Budh Ram, Bathinda rural by AAP MLA Rupinder Kaur Ruby, Bhucho Mandi by Congress MLA Pritam Singh Kotbhai, Bathinda urban by state Finance Minister Manpreet Badal, Sardulgarh by SAD MLA Dilraj Singh and Lambi by former Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Baljinder Kaur, said that she was very happy that her name had been announced as the party candidate from Bathinda. “I have just heard this news from you. I knew that my name was being considered but did not know that it had been finalised. I will definitely put up my best fight in the electoral battle,” she said.
When asked if the AAP votes in the constituency would be divided due to the presence of Sukhpal Khaira, she said that voters always vote for the party and not for the individual and hence AAP voters will stick with the official candidate.
PEP chief Sukhpal Khaira, on the other hand, maintained that by nominating Baljinder Kaur as the party candidate, AAP was trying to cut down his votes in order to help the SAD and the Congress. “This is nothing but a ploy to ensure that Harsimrat Badal coasts ahead to win and all efforts are being made by AAP and Congress to help her because I am the only serious challenger to Harsimrat Badal,” he said.