CHANDIGARH: The Congress fielded Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi from a second seat, Bhadaur (SC), in the Punjab Assembly polls and replaced three MLAs as it released its final list of eight candidates on Sunday.
The final list of candidates of Congress came two days ahead of the last date for filing nominations for the February 20 election.
The ruling party in the state has now announced candidates on all 117 seats.
The announcement to field Channi from a second seat comes days after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the party would go to the Punjab polls with a chief ministerial face and the decision in this regard would be taken soon after consulting the workers.
AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal took a jibe at Channi, saying he had pointed out that according to his party’s survey, the chief minister would lose the electoral battle from the Chamkaur Sahib (SC) seat, which he currently represents in the Assembly.
“I had said that according to our survey, Channi is losing from Chamkaur Sahib. Today, Congress announced that he will contest the polls from two seats. Does it mean that the survey is right?” Kejriwal wrote on Twitter.
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The Congress has fielded former Union minister and former Chandigarh MP Pawan Bansal’s son Manish Bansal from the Barnala Assembly seat. The party has fielded former Patiala mayor Vishnu Sharma from the Patiala Urban seat.
Former chief minister Amarinder Singh will also contest the polls from Patiala Urban. Sharma rejoined the Congress this month. He was the Patiala mayor from 2002 to 2007, when Congress was in power in the state.
From Jalalabad, where the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has fielded its president Sukhbir Singh Badal, the Congress has nominated two-time former MP Mohan Singh Phalianwala. The seat is currently represented in the Assembly by Congress MLA Raminder Awla.
Awla was learnt to have been seeking the party ticket from Guruharsahai. However, in its previous list of candidates, Congress fielded Vijay Kalra from the seat. The party has fielded Channi from the Bhadaur (SC) seat in Barnala district.
The chief minister was earlier nominated from the Chamkaur Sahib (SC) seat, which he has been representing in the Assembly since 2007.
By fielding Channi from Bhadaur, the Congress is eying electoral gains in the politically-significant Malwa region, which has a good presence of Dalits, in addition to their concentration in the Doaba area.
The party would also hope to check the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) influence in the Sangrur-Barnala belt by fielding Channi from Bhadaur.
Notably, Punjab has a 31.94 per cent Scheduled Caste (SC) population. Channi, who replaced Amarinder Singh last year, is the first SC chief minister of Punjab.
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Earlier, his name was doing the rounds for being fielded from the Mehal Kalan (SC) seat in Barnala. Rebel AAP leader Pirmal Singh is the current Bhadaur MLA. The AAP has fielded Labh Singh Ugoke from the seat.
Barnala district has three Assembly segments — Barnala, Mehal Kalan, and Bhadaur — which fall under the Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency, State AAP president, and the party’s chief ministerial face in the upcoming polls Bhagwant Mann is the MP from Sangrur.
The Congress has denied a ticket to its MLA Tarsem Singh DC from Attari. It has fielded Tarsem Singh Sialka from the seat. The party has also denied tickets to Nawanshahr MLA Angad Saini and has fielded Satbir Singh Saini in his place.
Angad Saini had recently said his allegiance to Congress cannot be doubted and his wife’s defection to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is inconsequential to his loyalty to his constituents. His wife Aditi Singh is an MLA from Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh. She joined the BJP after quitting Congress last year.
From Khemkaran, the party has retained the current MLA, Sukhpal Singh Bhullar. It has fielded Ishwarjot Singh Cheema from Ludhiana South.