Sitting MP Bhagwant Mann might be the faction-ridden AAP’s best bet in Punjab as he seeks re-election from Sangrur, where he registered a victory in 2014 polls with a record margin. Mann, who is the chief of the Punjab unit of the Aam Aadmi Party, faces Kewal Singh Dhillon of the Congress and SAD-BJP’s nominee Parminder Singh Dhindsa, both determined to wrest the seat from the principal opposition party in the state.
The Lok Insaaf Party, which had contested the last assembly elections in alliance with AAP, has fielded AAP rebel Jassi Jasraj. The party is part of the Punjab Democratic Alliance (PEP).
Adding to the multi-corner contest is SAD (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann, who is once again in the fray from the constituency.
However, confident of bettering his previous victory margin of 2.11 lakh votes, the comedian-turned-politician is banking on his connect with people.
He is highlighting the utilisation of the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) for setting up libraries, smart classrooms, gyms and providing better furniture in schools. The constituency has witnessed several farmer suicides and remains a hotbed of farmer and Dalit movements.
He urged voters to press the EVM button against the broom symbol in the constituency where five of the nine assembly segments were won by AAP in the 2017 state elections, followed by three by the Congress and one by the Shiromani Akali Dal.
Mann blames the Congress and SAD-BJP combine for ruining the state.
He also slams the Union government for its divisive politics in the past five years and draws a comparison with the unparalleled work carried out by the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government, especially in the education and health sectors.
They are not bothered about employment, farming crisis or other issues. On the contrary, Arvind Kejriwal has completely changed the face of government hospitals and schools. I have seen this myself and you can also get it checked from your near and dear ones in Delhi, he says.
Meanwhile, his rival SAD-BJP combine nominee Parminder Singh Dhindsa, who is an MLA from Lehragaga, is seeking votes on the performance of the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre.
These are the Lok Sabha polls and your vote will decide the future of the country. The nation needs a strong government, says the state’s former finance minister of the state. Dhindsa, whose party has faced the people’s anger people over the desecration of scriptures in 2015, is unsparing in his criticism of the Amarinder Singh-led Punjab government. He claims that the Congress government reneged on its poll promises.
Dhindsa’s father and Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa had lost the seat to AAP in 2014. He has not been campaigning for his son. Sukhdev Dhindsa, who had resigned from all party posts of the SAD last year, citing health reasons, had also advised him not to contest the Lok Sabha polls.
Congress nominee Kewal Singh Dhillon, who is one of the richest candidates in Punjab, is relying on the performance of the Amarinder Singh-led state government.
He attacks the Modi-led government on the issue of demonetisation, claiming that they did nothing in the past five years.
Over 15 lakh people are registered to vote in Sangrur on May 19.