Although Congress has managed to win in Punjab, the delay in announcement of 13 tickets has cost the party dear. Eight of the 13 Congress candidates given tickets just ahead of last day of nomination filing have lost. The five who managed victory include one from Malwa and two each from Majha and Doaba. Five from Malwa and three from Doaba given ticket at the last hour have lost.
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The nomination filing for Punjab polls ended January 18. After intense lobbying, it was on January 16 that the party released list of 10 candidates and last list of three candidates on January 17. From Malwa, six tickets were given after much ado, of which just one candidate, Sanjay Talwar from Ludhiana East, has won, that too by a mere 1,581 votes. Talwar was given ticket after denying the same to former union minister Manish Tewari who wanted to contest from Ludhiana East.
Five other Malwa candidates, Captain Amarinder Singh from Lambi, Ludhiana MP Ravneet Bittu from Jalalabad, Manju Bansal from Mansa, Harinder Singh Mann from Sanour and Malkit Dakha from Jagraon, faced defeats.
Captain lost to CM Parkash Singh Badal from Lambi by 22,770 votes though he won his Patiala seat. Bittu was a distant third with 31,539 votes only against former deputy CM Sukhbir Badal from Jalalabad who got 75,251 votes.
Seven candidates from Doaba and Majha were declared at last hour, of which four won by heavy margins while three lost to their opponents.
While former Olympian Pargat Singh from Jalandhar Cantt and Avtar Singh Sanghera aka Bawa Henry from Jalandhar North won in Doaba; Navjot Sidhu from Amritsar east and Inderbir Bolaria from Amritsar south won in Majha.
Jagbir Brar from Nakodar, Ranjit Singh from Bholath and Vikramjit Chaudhary from Phillaur lost in Doaba.
Brar, who was sent to Nakodar from Jalandhar Cantt to “adjust” Pargat, says, “I had worked in Jalandhar Cantt for the last 10 years and suddenly I was shifted to Nakodar. Still, people voted for me heavily though I did not win.”
He got 35,633 votes against 56,241 of winning SAD candidate Gurpartap Singh Wadala.
Another two Doaba candidates who lost, Ranjit Singh and Vikramjit Singh Chaudhary, were not the first choices of Congress from Bholath and Phillaur respectively. Since senior Congress leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira joined AAP, Congress had no face in Bholath.
Former Nurmahal Congress MLA Gurbinder Singh Atwal was sent to Bholath but he faced protests from local cadre.
Ranjit Singh has now faced crushing defeat getting just 5,903 votes in Bholath. Vikramjit Chaudhary from Phillaur too was given ticket after last-minute decision to replace his mother Karamjit Kaur. He lost by 3,477 votes to SAD candidate Baldev Singh Khaira. However, both last minute candidates from Majha won.
Inderbir Singh Bolaria from Amritsar South, who defected from SAD, won with a margin of 22,658 votes defeating his namesake Inderbir Singh Nijjar of AAP. Navjot Singh Sidhu, former BJP MP who joined Congress after much ado, won by a huge margin of 42,809 votes defeating BJP’s Rajesh Honey. Former Olympian Pargat Singh won Jalandhar Cantt by a significant margin of 29,124 votes defeating SAD candidate Sarabjit Singh Makkar and AAP candidate HS Walia.