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Will jailed preacher Amritpal's Khadoor Sahib entry challenge SAD?

May 19, 2024 16:47 IST

With the unexpected entry of radical Sikh preacher Amritpal Singh into the poll fray, a keen electoral battle is in the offing in Punjab's Khadoor Sahib, a Sikh majority parliamentary constituency that is considered a citadel of the Shiromani Akali Dal.

IMAGE: Waris Punjab De' chief Amritpal Singh at Golden Temple, in Amritsar. Photograph: ANI Photo

Amritpal Singh, the chief of the 'Waris Punjab De' outfit, who is lodged in Assam's Dibrugarh jail under the National Security Act, has thrown his hat into the ring as an Independent.


The electoral battle for Khadoor Sahib is a five-cornered contest.

The Shiromani Akali Dal has fielded former MLA Virsa Singh Valtoha, while transport minister Laljit Singh Bhullar is the candidate of the Aam Aadmi Party.

The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party have nominated former MLA Kulbir Singh Zira and Manjit Singh Mianwind, respectively.

The Khadoor Sahib constituency, which is known as a 'Panthic' seat, has voters from all three regions -- Majha, Malwa and Doaba.

It has nine assembly segments -- Jandiala, Tarn Taran, Khem Karan, Patti, Khadoor Sahib, Baba Bakala, Kapurthala, Sultanpur Lodhi and Zira.

Seven assembly segments are held by the AAP while one each by the Congress and an Independent.

The Shiromani Akali Dal candidates Rattan Singh Ajnala and Ranjit Singh Brahmpura won the Khadoor Sahib seat in the 2009 and 2014 general elections.

However, SAD candidate and former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief Bibi Jagir Kaur lost the seat to Congress nominee Jasbir Singh Dimpa in the 2019 Lok Saha polls.

Paramjit Kaur Khalra, the wife of human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra, had also unsuccessfully contested the 2019 elections from this seat and had secured 20 per cent of the votes.

The sudden announcement of Amritpal Singh jumping into the fray came on April 24 when his legal counsel Rajdev Singh Khalsa claimed that the jailed preacher had agreed to fight the polls as an Independent candidate at his request.

Later, Amritpal Singh's father Tarsem Singh said his son was not willing to fight an electoral contest but he changed his mind at the instance of the 'sangat' or community which wanted him to enter the poll fray.

Paramjit Kaur Khalra is leading the poll campaign of Amritpal Singh.

Tarsem Singh has said that his son was getting overwhelming support from the people. He also said that those campaigning for the jailed leader son will raise the issues of release of 'Bandi Singhs' (Sikh prisoners who have completed their terms) and the drug menace in the state.

Amritpal Singh, who styled himself after slain Khalistani militant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, was arrested in Moga's Rode village on April 23 last year following an over a month-long manhunt.

The Khalistan sympathiser, who also acted as a crusader against drugs, had escaped the police net in Jalandhar district on March 18, switching vehicles and changing appearances.

The Punjab police had launched the crackdown after the February 23 Ajnala incident last year in which Amritpal Singh and his supporters, some of them brandishing swords and guns, broke through barricades and barged into the police station on the outskirts of Amritsar city, and clashed with police for the release of Lovepreet Singh Toofan, one of his aides.

Tarsem Singh has even called the SAD's move of fielding its candidate against his son a "historical mistake."

During the poll campaign in favour of party candidate Valtoha at Jandiala, SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said Amritpal Singh is fighting the Lok Sabha polls from the Khadoor Sahib seat to "free" himself, asking people whether the radical preacher was fit to lead them.

Badal asked people to determine whether a person who had acquired 'Sikhi saroop' one year earlier was fit to lead them or the 103-year-old party which was steeped in the blood of their forefathers.

He even urged people to evaluate if Amritpal Singh had been "propped up by central agencies".

"What other explanation can be that a person who was first propped up, then projected, then arrested and is now being kept in safe custody only to be used as a candidate in the parliamentary elections to counter the popularity of the SAD," said Badal.

The Simranjit Singh Mann-led SAD (Amritsar) is supporting Amritpal Singh from the Khadoor Sahib seat in this election.

Over 16.67 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the Khadoor Sahib constituency is going to polls on June 1 in the last phase of the Lok Sabha elections.

Earlier known as Tarn Taran, the Khadoor Sahib seat came into being in 2008 after a delimitation exercise.

Tarn Taran, which is part of the Khadoor Sahib constituency, was once the hotbed of militancy.

SAD nominees Major Singh Uboke, Prem Singh Lalpur, Tarlochan Singh Tur and Rattan Singh Ajnala had won the erstwhile Tarn Taran constituency in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004 respectively.

SAD (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann had won the erstwhile Tarn Taran Lok Sabha seat in 1989 by securing 88 percent of the votes.

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