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Posted at: Apr 15, 2019, 7:27 AM; last updated: Apr 15, 2019, 10:21 AM (IST)

Polls near, Congress, SAD undecided on two key seats

Polls near, Congress, SAD undecided on two key seats
Seventh phase of polling is all set to be issued in a week. File photo

Perneet Singh

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 14

Though the notification for the seventh phase of polling is all set to be issued in a week, the announcement of candidates by the SAD and Congress for Bathinda and Ferozepur seats seems to be caught in a game of “who blinks first” between the two parties, which are apparently waiting for each other to make the first move.

The SAD appears on the back foot primarily due to the sacrilege issue and is mulling hard over its choices before making a final announcement, while the Congress has already made it clear that it will open its cards after the SAD does.

In the city today for a series of meetings with party workers, SAD chief Sukhbir Badal told mediapersons that they would announce the candidates for these seats in the next couple of days. On whether they are waiting for the Congress to name its candidates first, he said, “In fact, they are waiting for us.”

To a query whether there is any rethink in the party, he said they had contenders for these two seats inmind and would announce their names soon.

Initially, there were speculations that the SAD may shift sitting MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal to the neighbouring Ferozepur constituency, which is considered “comparatively safer”. Later, there were reports that Sukhbir himself may contest from Ferozepur and Harsimrat will stick to Bathinda.

Interestingly, while both Sukhbir and Harsimrat are busy holding meetings with party workers from Bathinda over the last three weeks, former minister Bikram Majithia has been holding Youth Akali Dal rallies in the constituency. The Akali Dal has till now announced candidates on eight of the 10 seats it contests in Punjab, even as the suspense over Bathinda and Ferozepur seats continues.

On the other hand, the Congress appears in no mood to announce its candidates prior to the SAD. The party has announced 11 of its 13 candidates. Among the likely contenders for Bathinda seat are Finance Minister Manpreet Badal, PWD Minister Vijay Inder Singla, former CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, former CPS Navjot Kaur Sidhu and Gidderbaha MLA Amrinder Singh Raja Warring.

Though Manpreet is learnt to be leading the All India Congress Committee surveys, he has expressed his unwillingness to contest. Similarly, Navjot is also not too keen on contesting from Bathinda. There are reports that Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and Punjab affairs incharge Asha Kumari are backing Singla for Bathinda. For Ferozepur, the names of Sports Minister Rana Gurmit Sodhi, sitting Member of Parliament Sher Singh Ghubaya, who recently switched sides from SAD to Congress, and former Punjab Youth Congress chief Raminder Awla are doing the rounds.

CM reduced centenary to state event: Sukhbir

Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Badal on Sunday lashed out at Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s “ugly attempts to reduce a national event like the Jallianwala Bagh centenary to a state-level event”. He said, “It was shocking that by refusing to be part of the event organised by the Centre, Capt Amarinder had the audacity to refuse to join the rest of the nation in paying homage to the martyrs. Instead, he tried desperately to reduce an event of global significance to a mere state event.” 

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