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Polling begins for Assembly seat with litmus test for Punjab CM

Darpan News Desk IANS, 10 Jul, 2024 01:07 PM
  • Polling begins for Assembly seat with litmus test for Punjab CM

Chandigarh, July 10 (IANS) Polling for Punjab's lone Assembly constituency -- Jalandhar (West) -- began on Wednesday with 15 candidates in the fray for a multi-cornered contest.

A total of 1.72 lakh people will cast votes in the by-election till 6 p.m.

The seat fell vacant with resignation of Sheetal Angural resigned as an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislator. He's again in the fray, now as a BJP nominee.

In a battle between the AAP, the BJP and the Congress in the Jalandhar West (reserved) Assembly constituency, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann's prestige is at stake.

The ballots will be counted on July 13.

The Jalandhar West (reserved) Assembly constituency is a hub of Dalits in the Doaba region.

While the ruling AAP has fielded BJP rebel Mohinder Bhagat as its candidate, the BJP pitted former AAP MLA Angural as its nominee.

Bhagat, who left the BJP and joined the AAP in April 2023, is the son of a three-time MLA from this Assembly constituency of the BJP and served as Cabinet Minister from 2007-2017.

The Congress' nominee is Surinder Kaur, the former senior Deputy Mayor and five-time councillor of Jalandhar, and the party believes her social work will ensure her resounding victory. She is known for her proximity to the Dera Sachakhand Ballan, a key Ravidassia community sect in the region.

The Shiromani Akali Dal has extended support to Bahujan Samaj Party nominee Binder Kumar.

The caste factor has played a key role in this seat, that is known worldwide for manufacturing sports goods.

Congress' candidate is a prominent Dalit leader of the Ravidassia community, while AAP's candidate Bhagat belongs to the Kabir Bhagat community, which has 30,000 voters. The latter had unsuccessfully contested this seat in the 2017 and 2022 Assembly elections on BJP tickets.

By fielding Bhagat, AAP is looking to woo 30,000 Bhagat community voters.

BJP's Angural, a young firebrand leader, is banking upon the Sialkotia Ravidassia community, which also has a considerable vote share.

In the just concluded Lok Sabha elections, Congress' Charanjit Singh Channi defeated BJP's Sushil Kumar Rinku from Jalandhar by a record margin of 1.75 lakh votes.

In a humiliating defeat to the AAP government two years after its landslide victory in the state, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and the party's national convener, Arvind Kejriwal, had set an ambitious target of winning all 13 Lok Sabha seats but won just three, with four of the five Cabinet Ministers failing to secure victories.

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