The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Sunday announced that former minister Gulzar Singh Ranike will be its candidate from the Faridkot Lok Sabha seat in the upcoming polls. The announcement came as a surprise for Ranike, who said: “I never asked for ticket from Faridkot. It has come as a surprise to me. I know there were three-four persons interested for Faridkot, but I never thought of my name for Lok Sabha elections and that too from Faridkot. This is ‘guru di mehar’. It is just an hour’s distance from Attari and hence we will be camping in Faridkot from Monday itself. “
Ranike had contested Vidhan Sabha elections five times (1997, 2002, 2007, 2012 and 2017) from Attari constituency in Amritsar. He won four times except in 2017. He was made a Cabinet minister in the SAD government in 2007 and in 2012 as well. President of SC wing of SAD, Ranike said sacrilege issue, which happened during SAD-BJP government with Faridkot at its centre stage, was no longer an issue. “Inquiry in the case is going on. However, this issue will no longer have any impact in the campaign as rival parties did a false campaign about us in 2017 Vidhan Sabha polls. However, it will not work this time.”
Among the names that were doing the rounds were newly inducted leader and former Congress MLA Joginder Singh Panjgrain, former Faridkot MP Paramjeet Kaur Gulshan, Darshan Singh Kotfatta, former Bathinda Rural MLA. Joginder Singh was in news for his war of words with Mohd Sadiq — now the Faridkot candidate for the Congress — during Panchayat polls.
About Ranike’s candidature, Joginder said,”I had remained in Congress, but due to their policies, I had no choice but to leave them and join SAD. I given no commitment about the seat by SAD president Sukhbir Badal. I am happy over Ranike’s name being announced and will support him. Sadiq is already facing protest in villages….”
Sadiq, a known Punjabi singer, said: “I am yet to start my campaign and hence I cannot say as whether Congress workers are unhappy with me. If there are some, I will sit them and talk to them.”
Sadiq was elected as an MLA from Bhadaur in 2012, but in 2017, he lost from Jaito constituency of Faridkot to AAP’s Master Baldev Singh.
Master Baldev is now a candidate from Punjabi Ekta Party in Faridkot and he started his campaign in March. Sadhu Singh, sitting AAP MP from the seat, is also touring village to seek votes.
About SAD’s chances, Sadiq said: “SAD is no where in picture in the area as people have not yet forgotten the sacrilege issue. Congress has an upper edge over all its rivals this time.”