Amarinder Singh to fight mostly rural seats in tie-up with BJP

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AMARINDER Singh’s Punjab Lok Congress will be fighting mostly rural seats in its alliance with the BJP. On Monday, the parties had announced that the BJP will be contesting 65 constituencies and the PLC 37 in the coming Assembly elections.

The BJP is largely contesting the urban seats. Its share includes all the 23 Assembly segments that it used to contest when in alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal.

The urban constituencies in the PLC share are Amritsar South, Raja Sansi, Nawanshahr, Bathinda Urban, Ludhiana South, Ludhiana East, Atam Nagar, Patiala Urban, Samana and Malerkotla.

Almost all the seats in the PLC’s share, 26 of 37, fall in the Malwa region — Budhlada, Mansa, Rampura Phul, Bathinda (Urban), Bathinda (Rural), Dharamkot, Nihal Singh Wala, Dakha, Ludhiana South, Atam Nagar, Ludhiana East, Patiala, Sanaur, Samana, Shutrana, Patiala (rural), Bhadaur, Amargarh, Ferozepur (rural), Zira, Kotkapura,, Bassi Pathana, Kharar, Gidderbaha, Malout and Malerkotla.

Most of these are predominantly rural seats. Amarinder’s pocket borough Patiala is also a part of Malwa.

The biggest Punjab region, it gave the Aam Aadmi Party a foothold in the state and was the epicentre of farm protests.

However, the BJP has kept as many as four of the nine Assembly segments falling under Patiala Lok Sabha constituency, from where Amarinder’s wife Preneet Kaur is a five-time MP. The five segments that have gone to the PLC include Patiala Urban and Rural seats, Sanaur, Samana and Shutrana.

Amarinder’s native Mehraj village falls in Rampura Phul constituency, a part of Bathinda district.

In the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency, the PLC will be fighting three seats. Amarinder had won the Lok Sabha seat defeating the late BJP heavyweight Arun Jaitley with a margin of over one lakh votes at the height of the 2014 Modi wave.

In the Majha region that includes Amritsar, the PLC will contest from Raja Sansi, Amritsar (South), Jandiala, Ajnala, Khadoor Sahib, Patti, Fatehgarh Churian. The Majha region is called the Panthic belt and has usually favoured the Akalis. Proximity to border also makes it a hotbed of drugs trafficking.

Only four seats in the Doaba region, including Bholath, Nawanshahr, Nakodar and Adampur (SC), have come to the PLC. Punjab’s most prosperous region, it is home to Deras. Earlier behind the Congress, it has a high proportion of Hindus and Scheduled Castes.

The 23 seats the BJP has long been contesting from, which stay with it, include Sujanpur, Bhoa, Pathankot, Dina Nagar, Amritsar North, Amritsar West, Amritsar Central, Amritsar East, Phagwara, Jalandhar West, Jalandhar Central, Jalandhar North, Mukerian, Dasuya, Hoshiarpur, Anandpur Sahib, Ludhiana Central, Ludhiana West, Ludhiana North, Ferozepur City, Fazilka, Abohar and Rajpura.

Amarinder has already announced names for 22 seats, including his. However, he remains almost the only heavyweight in the list announced on Sunday, and most of the others are not given a good chance.

Amarinder’s closest aide and former Cabinet minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi earlier chose to join the BJP rather than the PLC and is contesting on a BJP ticket from Ferozepur (City).

The PLC list includes three ex-MLAs, who crossed over from the Akali Dal and Congress — Farzana Alam Khan (Malerkotla seat); Prem Mittal (Atam Nagar); and Harjinder Singh Thekedar (Amritsar South). Sitting Patiala Mayor Sanjiv Sharma Bittu has been fielded from Patiala (Rural).

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