Capt Amarinder Singh on Sunday announced the Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) candidates from 22 constituencies for the February 20 polls, with a clear focus on winnability while ensuring due representation across regions and various sections of society.
He himself is in the fray from his home constituency of Patiala (Urban). Four of the 22 candidates belong to the Scheduled Castes (SC) community, three to the Other Backward Class (OBC) community, while five are Hindu faces (three Pandits and two Aggarwals).
The PLC has currently got 37 of the 117 seats in the state as part of its alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and SAD (Sanyukt), with discussions still in progress on possibly another five seats for the party.
Of the 37 seats in the PLC kitty, the maximum of 26 is from Malwa region, which Capt Amarinder had single-handedly transformed into a game-changer for the Congress in the 2007 polls with his ground-breaking Water Termination Act of 2004 as well as the introduction of BT cotton.
More recently, it was Capt Amarinder’s strong and unequivocal support to the agitating farmers in the region, which was the epicentre of their protest before it shifted to the Delhi borders, that played a decisive role in the final outcome to the issue.
The former Chief Minister’s hand is being seen in the eventual revocation of the farm laws by the Centre. Also, Capt Amarinder has strong family ties with the region, which used to be part of the erstwhile royal estate of Patiala.
The PLC’s share in seat allocation for the Majha region currently stands at seven, while the Doaba region accounts for four seats.
Releasing the first list of nominees, the PLC leader said all these candidates have strong political credentials and are well-known faces in their respective constituencies.
There is one woman on this first list. Farzana Alam Khan, a former SAD MLA and wife of late DGP Izhar Alam Khan, will contest from Malerkotla in the Malwa region.
Besides Capt Amarinder, who had on Saturday itself announced his decision to fight from his home constituency of Patiala (Urban), there are eight other Jat Sikhs in the well balanced first list.
In addition to Capt Amarinder and Farzana Alam, another key candidate from the Malwa region is the current Mayor of Municipal Corporation Patiala, Sanjeev Sharma, who was President of District Youth Congress for a number of years. Sharma will contest the Patiala (Rural) seat.
Kamaldeep Saini, former PPCC secretary, has been finalised as the candidate from Kharar, while Jagmohan Sharma, who was President of District Congress Committee, Ludhiana and is currently the PLC district president, has been selected for Ludhiana (East).
The Ludhiana (South) seat will be represented in the PLC by Satinderpal Singh Tajpuri, the son of a former Cooperation Minister in the previous Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) government.
Prem Mittal, a SAD ex-MLA from Mansa and former Senior Deputy Mayor of Ludhiana, will contest from Atamnagar, while Damanjeet Singh Mohi, an active Youth Congress functionary who has formerly been Sarpanch, Zila Parishad member and Chairman of Market Committee Mullanpur, will fight from Dakha.
A popular Dalit face and a retired PPS officer, Mukhtiar Singh has been nominated for the party ticket from the reserved constituency of Nihalsingh Wala.
The Dharamkot seat ticket has gone to Ravinder Singh Garewal, an advocate, agriculturist and businessman. Amarjeet Sharma, a medical practitioner who has been working at the grassroots for over a decade, has been pitched from Rampura Phul.
An established businessman, transporter and agriculturist, Raj Nambardar is a prominent Hindu face from Bathinda and will contest the polls from Bathinda (Urban).
Incidentally, his father Dev Raj Nambardar also contested from Bathinda in 1985. Bathinda (Rural), a reserved constituency, will be contested by Sawera Singh, son of late MLA Makhan Singh and currently Vice Chairman, Punjab Water Resources Management Corporation.
The PLC candidate from another reserved seat, Budhalada, is Subedar Bhola Singh Hasanpur, who served the Indian Army for 28 years and was unanimously elected Sarpanch of his village.
Three-time Municipal Councillor and former member Improvement Trust, Barnala as well as ex-President SC Wing of SAD, Dharam Singh Fauji has been selected as the PLC candidate from Bhadaur (SC).
The Sanaur seat will be contested by business and youth social activist Bikramjit Inder Singh Chahal, son of Capt Amarinder Singh’s advisor B.I.S. Chahal, with the Samana candidature going to Surinder Singh Kherki, former Member of Panchayat Samiti.
In the Majha region, Tejinder Singh Randhawa is the candidate for Fatehgarh Churrian, while ex-MLA and former Chairman of Forests Corporation Harjinder Singh Thekedar will fight Amritsar (South).
The first list of candidates from Doaba region includes Amandeep Singh, former Punjab Congress spokesperson, for Bholath, and former Indian Hockey Team captain, Ajitpal Singh, for Nakodar.