Bathinda: With the ruling party followed by its opponents taking too much interest in the activities taking place here for past one decade, Bathinda is now considered as Capital of politics in Malwa region of Punjab.
The political significance of the district, that was once known for its sand dunes only, can now be observed with the fact that it has two ministers in the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s cabinet, Sikander Singh Maluka and Janmeja Singh Sekhon. One of the remaining three SAD MLAs from Bathinda district Sarup Chand Singla was also made Chief Parliamentary Secretary (CPS).
All three are among the lucky lot of Akalis who have been picked for the party tickets for 2017 Vidhan Sabha polls and that too from the same seats they successfully contested in 2012. SAD has declared its 69 candidates of the total 94 seats which it will contest in coalition with BJP, leaving 23 of total 117 Punjab seats for saffron party. Interestingly there is no seat for BJP in Bathinda district as per the seat sharing pact between the alliance.
Party has also fielded Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu from Talwandi Sabo. Once considered as close aide of Punjab Congress president captain Amarinder Singh, the former deserted Congress in the second half of 2014, in bypolls he won on SAD ticket.
The Akalis are now waiting for announcement of Bathinda (Rural) and Bhucho assembly segments only, on which party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal is yet to take a call due to the prevalent infighting within cadre. Still, chances of former MP Paramjit Kaur Gulshan, who has already represented Bathinda and Faridkot in Lok Sabha, seem slightly brighter over other contenders for Bathinda (rural) constituency.
The distinction of Bathinda district is also for it being the part of Union Cabinet Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, daughter-in-law of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
Akalis are sounding much confident to win all six assembly seats: Maur, Rampura Phul, Talwandi Sabo, Bathinda (Urban), Bathinad (Rural), Talwandi Sabo and Bhucho, citing the reasoning that the party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal will allot tickets to best candidates.
If one believes the reports of the political observers, AAP in Punjab is increasing base due to love and support it is getting in Malwa. For many, the base of ‘Jhadoo’ party in Malwa is quite stronger than Majha and Doaba. The AAP has fielded its women wing president Baljinder Kaur from Talwandi Sabo seat, from where she could bag just 13,889 votes against the SAD candidate Jeet Mohinder Sidhu was declared winner by bagging a total of 71, 747 votes in 2014 by polls.
The AAP has fielded 27-year-old law graduate Rupinder Kaur Ruby from Bathinda (Rural). The party has announced the candidature of its sector incharge Deepak Bansal from Bathinda (Urban). For remaining seats, party has numerous contenders, which party leaders project co-relating with the party’s poll prospects.
In Congress fold, party leadership has surrendered all rights for ticket allotment to AICC chief Sonia Gandhi but the party is yet to finalise the list of candidates for Punjab. As AAP and SAD have already announced major number of their candidates, the delay is upsetting Congress workers and contenders.
As there is many a slip between cup and the sip, it will be too early to predict the names of Congress candidates, still there is excitement in the cadre since the name of former PPP chief Manpreet Singh Badal cropped up for Bathinda (urban) seat. Manpreet, while contesting 2014 Lok Sabha polls on Congress ticket, was 20,000 votes ahead of Harsimrat Kaur Badal in Bathinda (Urban) segment. However, this proposal is not being welcomed from a particular section supporting the candidature of former minister Harminder Singh Jassi. Further, floating the name of former FM Surinder Singla, Amarinder Singh rocked the party leaders eyeing Bathinda (urban) ticket.
Similar is the situation in Talwandi Sabo, as after Jeet Mohinder went with SAD, a void was created, which Jassi was forced to fill but he failed in 2014 bypolls. Now, welcoming an Akali Balbir Singh Sidhu, the PPCC president created turbulence in two already warring factions of Sukdev Singh Chahal and Khushbaz Jattana, who are eyeing the ticket.
Meanwhile, chances of sitting MLA Ajaib Singh Bhatti seem to be quite bright for Bhucho seat but the former Pakka Kalan MLA Makhan Singh is unlikely to contest due to poor health. From Rampura constituency, Maluka’s bête noir and former MLA Gurpreet Singh Kangar is again the strong contender.
As CPI’s state head Hardev Arshi resides in Bathinda, it can be expected that party will not take the decisions in haste and same way BSP has not yet disclosed its cards.
All four SAD tickets announced for the district till date go with the sitting MLAs
CPI state head Hardev Arshi is native of Bathinda city
Three ‘heavy weights’ of Congress Manpreet Badal, Harminder Jassi and Surinder Singla eye Bathinda (Urban) ticket
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