Punjab polls: Channi gets Bhadaur as second seat in Congress’ final list of 8 - Hindustan Times
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Punjab polls: Channi gets Bhadaur as second seat in Congress’ final list of 8

By, Chandigarh
Jan 31, 2022 01:31 AM IST

Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi will contest from Bhaduar seat in Barnala district in addition to Chamkaur Sahib. Congress culminated its list of all 117 candidates by naming the last eight on Sunday. In all, the Congress has replaced 11 of its 80 sitting Punjab legislators.

The Congress on Sunday released its final list of eight candidates for the February 20 assembly elections in Punjab, fielding chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi from a second seat, Bhadaur, and replacing three of its sitting legislators.

Punjab CM CharanJit Singh Channi, who was named from the Chamkaur Sahib seat won by him thrice in a row in the first list of candidates on January 15, will now also contest from the Bhadaur reserved assembly constituency in Barnala district (HT File)
Punjab CM CharanJit Singh Channi, who was named from the Chamkaur Sahib seat won by him thrice in a row in the first list of candidates on January 15, will now also contest from the Bhadaur reserved assembly constituency in Barnala district (HT File)

Also Read | Charanjit Channi to contest from 2 seats; 'I said before' is Kejriwal's reaction

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Channi, who was named from the Chamkaur Sahib seat won by him thrice in a row in the first list of candidates on January 15, will now also contest from the Bhadaur reserved assembly constituency in Barnala district. The chief minister has been given the second seat to counter the growing influence of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Barnala and its adjoining areas in Malwa region by consolidating the scheduled caste votes, party insiders said after the Congress released the names of its final eight candidates to complete the ticketing process.

Also Read | Punjab polls: Even Bhadaur is not safe bet for Channi, says Sukhbir

In 2017, the AAP had won 10 of its 20 seats in Barnala and adjoining Mansa, Bathinda and Sangrur districts. “His presence will galvanise the party cadres in the region and help dent the AAP,” a party leader said. The Congress leadership had initially also considered fielding Channi, the first SC chief minister of Punjab, from Adampur in Doaba region, besides Chamkaur Sahib, to leverage his “growing popularity”.

The party has fielded former mayor Vishnu Sharma from Patiala Urban to take on Channi’s predecessor Capt Amarinder Singh, who quit the Congress and floated his separate Punjab Lok Congress after being made to resign from the CM’s post four months ago. The names of veteran party leaders, cabinet minister Brahm Mohindra and former minister Lal Singh, were also considered.

Channi only Cong leader from 2 seats

Channi is the only Congress leader to be fielded from two assembly constituencies, and the move is being seen in the party circles as a signal that the high command sees his role as key to retaining power in the state. There were also suggestions that the CM should take on SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal in Jalalabad having 75% SC voters, the highest percentage share in any assembly segment in the state. The Congress has won the Bhadaur seat only once – Mohammad Sadique in 2012, since 1972. In 2017, the seat was won by AAP’s Pirmal Singh Dhaula who switched loyalty to the Congress last year and was a frontrunner till the party opted to field Channi.

3 sitting legislators replaced

In the third list, three MLAs – Tarsem Singh DC from Attari, Angad Saini from Nawanshahr and Raminder Singh Awla from Jalalabad, have been replaced by the Congress. Tarsem and Angad, both first-timers, have been dropped from the list whereas Awla has opted out. Angad has been replaced with Satbir Singh Saini Balichiki. He has been denied the ticket as his wife Aditi Singh, who is MLA from Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh, not only quit the Congress and joined the BJP, but has also dared Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to contest against her from there.

Tarsem Singh Sialka has been given the party ticket from Attari reserved seat in place of his namesake, Tarsem, whose candidature faced stiff opposition from former state chief and campaign committee chairman Sunil Jakhar. Though he had Channi’s backing, Tarsem DC did not make it to the final list. Awla, who had won from Jalalabad in the 2019 byelection, wanted to shift to nearby Guruharsahai seat but faced opposition from Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu and decided to opt out, party sources said. Mohan Singh Phalianwala, who won Ferozepur Lok Sabha seat from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in 1992 and 1996, has been named in his place.

In all, the Congress has replaced 11 of its 80 sitting legislators as the names of four each were missing from the first two lists. Sitting MLA Sukhpal Singh Bhullar has been again fielded from Khemkaran. His renomination was being opposed by Jakhar whereas the chief minister and Rajya Sabha MP Ambika Soni were backing him, a person familiar with the developments said. Bhullar was also camping in Delhi for the past several days.

Pawan Bansal’s son from Barnala

Former Union minister and former four-time Chandigarh MP Pawan Kumar Bansal’s son Manish Bansal has been fielded from Barnala. Bansal, who was appointed the Congress treasurer in November 2020, belongs to Tapa, a small town near Barnala. Kewal Singh Dhillon was also seeking the Congress ticket from Barnala, but has got ignored. He had won the seat in 2007 and 2012, but lost to AAP’s Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer by 2,432 votes in the previous assembly election.

Ishwarjot Singh Cheema, who is considered close to cabinet minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu, has been fielded from Ludhiana South seat. There are just two days left for filing of nomination papers. Voting in the state will be held in a single phase on February 20 and the results will be declared on March 10.

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