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Cautious Shiromani Akali Dal Does Not Name Star Candidate Harsimrat Kaur Badal In First List  For LS 2024 In Punjab


The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), contesting the Lok Sabha elections in Punjab for the first time without its traditional alliance partner BJP since 1996 and missing its widely popular patriarch Prakash Singh Badal, appears to be unsure of its ground. Its most successful face in the last three elections has not found a place in the first list of seven candidates announced by the party on the auspicious occasion of Baisakhi.

In the first list, the party has not named a candidate from Bathinda Lok Sabha constituency from where former Union minister and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal’s wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal has been proving its trump card in the last three elections since 2009.

The list was posted on X by senior party leader and former cabinet minister Daljit Singh Cheema, who himself is going to contest for the first time from the border constituency of Gurdaspur in which his native village Cheema falls.

The others named are:

  • Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra from Anandpur Sahib
  • NK Sharma from Patiala
  • Anil Joshi from Amritsar
  • Bikramjit Singh Khalsa from Fatehgarh Sahib
  • Rajwinder Singh (grandson of late senior leader Gurdev Singh Badal) from Faridkot
  • Iqbal Singh Jhoonda from Sangrur

The party has fielded candidates from the border constituencies of Amritsar and Gurdaspur, which have traditionally been reserved for the saffron party as part of the alliance.

From Amritsar constituency, the grand old Sikh panthic party is trying to play the Hindu card, by giving the ticket to former BJP cabinet minister in the alliance Anil Joshi, who had been expelled by the saffron party for demanding the repeal of the three controversial farm laws in defiance of the party’s then strong stand in favour of the new legislations.

He had later joined the SAD and is currently a member of the party’s core committee and incharge of Amritsar Lok Sabha. In his candidature, the party also appears to be seeking to woo the agitating farmers, in whose favour Joshi had defied his then party line.

He will face up to ruling AAP candidate Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal, a minister in the Bhagwant Singh Mann cabinet, and former Indian Ambassador to the USA Taranjeet Singh Sandhu, who has been fielded by the BJP.

Former cabinet minister and an MBBS doctor by training, Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, nominated by the party from Gurdaspur, is learnt to have been keen on contesting from Anandpur Sahib constituency, in which he represented the Rupnagar assembly seat from 2012-2017. He remained Education Minister in the Prakash Singh Badal cabinet during this period.

When he was Political Advisor (in the rank of cabinet minister) to Prakash Singh Badal in his earlier tenure as Chief Minister from 2007-2012, he had unsuccessfully contested the Anandpur Sahib Lok Sabha seat in 2009, losing to first time Congress candidate Ravneet Singh Bittu, grandson of assassinated Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh.

The only other candidate fielded by any of the other major parties for the seat so far is Dinesh Singh ‘Babbu’ of the BJP.

Another party bigwig Prem Singh Chandumajra is again the party pick from Anandpur Sahib, from where the former cabinet minister and three-time MP had lost the 2019 lok sabha elections to Congress candidate and former Union minister Manish Tewari. He had represented the constituency in the previous lok sabha term from 2014-2019 after defeating Congress stalwart and former Union minister Ambika Soni.

His first and second short-lived terms in the lok sabha were from Patiala constituency which he represented from 1996-1998 and again from 1998-1999 during years of political turmoil in the country necessitating repeated elections.

Other major political parties are yet to name their nominees from this seat.

Well known realtor, two-time MLA from Dera Bassi and former Chief Parliamentary Secretary Narinder Kumar Sharma is the party candidate from Patiala Lok Sabha constituency. He faces an uphill task, being up against Congress turned BJP four-time MP and former Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s wife Preneet Kaur and ruling AAP candidate and Punjab health minister Dr Balbir Singh. The Congress is yet to field a candidate from the constituency but the name of former AAP MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi, who recently joined the Congress, is doing the rounds.

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