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Punjab polls: BJP’s first list of 34 includes 4 former Congress leaders,13 Sikh candidates

🔴 This is the first time since 1997 when BJP will not be contesting in an alliance with the SAD. The party has entered into a seat sharing agreement with Amarinder's Punjab Lok Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Samyukt) led by Akali veteran Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa.

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina | Chandaigarh |
Updated: January 22, 2022 10:48:37 am
Workers arrange campaign material as BJP releases first list of candidate for Punjab polls. (Express Photo: Gurmeet Singh)

The BJP Friday released its first list of 34 candidates, including a mix of old guard, new entrants from the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal and Sikh faces, for the February 20 Assembly polls in Punjab. The list has 13 Sikh candidates, eight Dalits and two women.

Releasing the list in Delhi, BJP general secretary Tarun Chugh said the party has given representation to all sections of society.

The names include former ministers Manoranjan Kalia, Surjit Kumar Jiyani and Tikshan Sood, and Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi — the sitting MLA from Guruharsahai who quit the Congress to join the party recently — and Nimisha Mehta — who too joined saffron party after Congress declared its first list and whose candidature was supported by Chief Minister Channi from Garhshankar. Sodhi, a former sports minister, will contest from Ferozepur City while Nimisha Mehta will contest from Garhshankar seat.

PUNJAB BJP Candidates list elections 2022 List of BJP candidates for the upcoming Punjab State elections.

The others include Kanwarveer Singh Tohra, the grandson of late Akali stalwart Gurcharan Singh Tohra, and former CM Capt Amarinder Singh’s close relative Arvind Khanna, who had quit Congress some years back while he was an MLA from Dhuri. He will contest from Sangrur while Tohra will test waters from Amloh.

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This is the first time since 1997 when BJP will not be contesting in an alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). The party has entered into a seat sharing agreement with Amarinder’s Punjab Lok Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Samyukt) led by Akali veteran Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa.

While the division of seats between the alliance partners has not yet been made public, state BJP president Ashwani Sharma said that the party would contest on around 65 seats. “We have given tickets to a cross section of the society. It includes Sikhs, farmers, a retired IAS officer, those from Schedule Caste. We are very confident that we will form the government in Punjab,” he said.

Chugh added, “We are giving the correct representation to all sections of the society in Punjab. This list includes fresh blood and the old guard too. We will release the next list within two days”. He added that 12 of the 34 candidates were from farmer families.

Asked about seat share, Chugh said Sharma is holding discussions with (Amarinder’s son) Raninder Singh and (Dhinda’s son) Parminder Singh Dhindsa.

Sources in the BJP said the party has reached a broader agreement with its allies and the PLC and the SAD (Sanyukt) are likely to get 34 and 18 seats, respectively. The BJP is also in talks to forge alliance with another regional party, the Lok Insaf Party, which has some influence in and around Ludhiana, sources said.

The SAD (Sanyukt) too on Friday released its first list of 12 candidates. In the last polls, the BJP had contested on 23 seats in alliance with the SAD and won only three seats.

Meanwhile, asked about former Congress leader Fateh Jung Bajwa not finding mention in list, as it was expected that he will get the ticket from Qadian, Sharma said the party releases the names as per its strategy and it should be allowed to do so.

The two sitting MLAs of the party, Dinesh Babbu and Arun Narang have again been given the ticket from their respective constituencies of Sujanpur and Abohar. Former IAS officer SR Ladhar has been given the ticket from Gill (SC) constituency while former IPS officer Ashok Bath will contest from Balachaur.

Among the four former Akali leaders, former MLA Didar Singh Bhatti will fight the election from Fatehgarh Sahib seat and Ravipreet Sidhu from Talwandi Sabo seat.

The BJP has fielded former Akali leader Puran Chand from Jalalabad, from where Sukhbir Singh Badal is the Shiromani Akali Dal nominee. Former Aam Aadmi Party leader Gurpreet Singh Bhatti has been fielded from Khanna seat.

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