AMRITSAR: A keen battle is on the cards as Amritsar's first Mayor and Congress leader Om Prakash Soni takes on senior BJP leader Tarun Chugh from this assembly constituency, even as AAP is projecting itself as a viable alternative.
Elected as Amritsar's first Mayor in 1991, Soni (59), the Congress MLA from Amritsar Central had defeated Chugh (45) in the 2012 Assembly polls.
Soni was twice elected as Independent MLA from Amritsar West seat, but won the same seat for third time as a Congress nominee in 2007. He got elected from Amritsar Central in 2012, again as Congress nominee, shifting to the new constituency after Amritsar-West was declared as Reserved seat.
Notably, Soni who had contested the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat in 2009 had lost to Navjot Singh Sidhu, who was then a BJP leader and is now with the Congress.
AAP has fielded a former Congress leader Dr Ajay Gupta (56) from here. Gupta replaced Darbari Lal, whose candidature was cancelled by the AAP a few days back citing his "ill health" but the latter rejoined his old party the Congress after making brief entry in the AAP.
In all, nine candidates are in the fray from here including BSP's Rajesh Kumar and three Independents.
Amritsar Central constituency has voter strength of nearly 1.35 lakh that includes 72,405 men and 62,519 women.
The constituency is a bustling area that comprises commercial and residential areas inside the old walled city.
While Soni alleges that the SAD-BJP government's lopsided policies have forced the once flourishing industry to set up base elsewhere, Chugh claims that even though he lost the 2012 elections, he worked hard and brought development projects worth Rs 1010 Crore for this constituency.
The constituency is famous for Darbar Sahib (Golden temple), the holiest of the Sikh shrines, which attracts over 1.5 lakh pilgrims daily, a number which crosses 2 lakh on weekends and holidays, besides the Jallianwala Bagh.