CHANDIGARH: Ahead of the upcoming Punjab Assembly elections, the some Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLAs are defecting to the Congress. Five SAD MLAs, who were denied tickets, will contest against SAD candidates.
The ruling SAD will field 26 new faces. Five SAD MLAs and one from it’s alliance partner BJP have joined the Congress—former Olympian Pargat Singh (Jalandhar (Cantonment), Inderbir Singh Bolaria (Amritsar South), Sarwan Singh Phillaur (Phillaur), Rajinder Kaur Bhagike (Nihal Singh Wala), Mahesh Inder Singh (Bagha Purana) and Navjot Kaur Sidhu (Amritsar East). Sidhu, Pargat and Bolaria might get tickets from their constituencies.
To buck the strong anti-incumbency of its 10-year rule, SAD Sukhbir Singh Badal has introduced 25 per cent new faces and shuffled 30 per cent candidates. SAD has announced 82 candidates in its three lists, of which 26 are new faces.
Among the new faces are sons of top party leaders. Harinder Pal Singh Chandumajra, son of MP Prem Singh Chandimajra will contest from Sanour in Patiala and Dilraj Singh Bhunder, son of MP Balwinder Singh Bhunder, will contest from Sardulgarh. Punjab Assembly Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal’s son Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal has been fielded from Raikot, while Amarpal Singh Bonny, son of former MP Rattan Ajnala, will contest from Ajanala in Amritsar. Agriculture Minister Tota Singh’s son Barjinder Singh ‘Makhan’ Brar is contesting from Moga.
“We have tried to strike a balance by giving representation to every section with new faces. We have also given tickets to young leaders and changed the seats of some,” Sukhbir said.
SAD will contest 94 seats, while its ally, the BJP, will contest the remaining 23. SAD is expected to announce its remaining 12 candidates next week.
The Congress may not give tickets to nearly 12 MLAs, who are unlikely to win. From Patiala (Urban), MLA Preneet Kaur will not contest, making way for her husband and state Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh. MLA Charanjit Kaur Bajwa will not contest from Qadian as her brother-in-law Fateh Jung Singh Bajwa is a claimant from there.