» Election » Battle of the clans is on in Punjab

Battle of the clans is on in Punjab

By Vijay C Roy in Chandigarh
May 04, 2009 08:34 IST
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Harsimrat Kaur, the Shiromani Akali Dal candidate from Bathinda, is probably the only candidate in the country whose cover papers (in case they got rejected for technical inaccuracies) were filed by her mother-in-law -- the wife of Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal.

As Punjab heads for Lok Sabha elections in two phases -- on May 7 and May 13 -- a total of 218 candidates, including 10 women, will be trying their luck for the 13 constituencies.

Of them, the two families pitted against each other are those of former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Badal clan which is fielding Harsimrat and a clutch of Badal cousins.

Amarinder Singh's son Raninder Singh is ranged against Harsimrat Kaur.

Interestingly, Ishar Singh, the son of former Sikh militant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, is also in the poll fray for the seat as well as CPI's Hardev Arshi, while the Bahujan Samaj Party has declared Nemchand Chaudhary from this seat, which was earlier reserved.

Harsimrat had started her political career endorsing the "Nanhe Chhau" for saving trees and the girl child. The issues relate to industrialisation but the alarming rise in cancer cases, drug abuse and suicide by farmers are social problems in the constituency.

Meanwhile, Raninder Singh's mother, Preneet Kaur, is fighting the elections from Patiala as a Congress candidate and will take on Shiromai Akali Dal candidate Prem Singh Chandumajra. Last time, she defeated SAD candidate late Kanwaljt Singh.

Locally known as "maharani", she is facing charges about public money being used for the beautification of the Moti Mahal, part of the Patiala palace.

There is a direct conflict between the Congress and the ruling SAD-BJP combine in most constituencies of the state.

The Bahujan Samaj Party does not have a large voter base in the state but is contesting all 13 seats. The Congress will fight all the 13 seats independently, while the SAD and BJP will contest 10 and 3 seats, respectively.

In the last Lok Sabha elections, the SAD bagged eight seats, while the BJP and Congress won three and two seats, respectively.

While voting in Bathinda, Sangrur, Patiala and Ferozepur will be held on May 7, the remaining nine constituencies will go to polls on May 13, the fifth and last phase of the ongoing general elections.

The high-profile candidates from Punjab this time include former cricketer and sitting BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, Sufi singer Hans Raj Hans on SAD ticket, Bollywood actor Vinod Khanna on BJP ticket, former governor of Punjab and lieutenant general (retired) B K N Chhibber on BSP ticket, among others. Also, Congress spokesman Manish Tewari will contest from Ludhiana.

Previous results show that the Congress has a strong foothold in Majha and Doaba belt, while the Malwa region is dominated by SAD-BJP. The ruling alliance announced it would fight the elections on developmental issues, like power, infrastructure, education, among others.

"The party will contest the upcoming elections on development issue," says SAD president and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.

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Vijay C Roy in Chandigarh
Source: source