Ahead of bypoll, Punjab’s veteran politicians missing in action in Jalandhar
With less than three weeks left for the Jalandhar Lok Sabha bypoll, the big names who ruled Punjab politics in the last few decades have been conspicuous by their absence. Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) patriarch Parkash Singh Badal, the scion of the erstwhile royal family of Patiala Captain Amarinder Singh, the Dhindsas, the Bhattals and the Jakhars have all been missing, leaving the campaigning to the new generation of politicians.
While Badal senior has been staying away from politics given his old age, Amarinder Singh has been in Delhi lately. A two-time Punjab chief minister, Amarinder Singh had resigned as CM in 2021 and later joined the BJP. He was absent when BJP candidate Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal filed his nomination papers on Tuesday. “The election has not heated up yet. It will only be after the last date of withdrawal is over. Captain will be back then and will campaign,” said his aide.
Former Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Sunil Jakhar was present when Atwal filed nominations but he too has not been campaigning. His aide said he would be back in Jalandhar and participate in the rallies soon.
The Jalandhar Lok Sabha bypoll scheduled to be held on May 10 was necessitated by the death of Congress’s Santokh Singh Chaudhary. While the ruling Aam Aadmi Party has fielded Congress turncoat Sushil Rinku, the Congress is counting on Chaudhary’s widow Karamjit Kaur. The BJP has named Atwal as its candidate and the SAD-BSP combine has fielded former MLA Sukhwinder Kumar Sukhi for the seat that has remained with the Congress since 1999.
SAD’s campaign is being led by former deputy chief minister and SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal. While the Congress campaign is being led by PPCC chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has handed over its campaign to party general secretary (organisation) Sandeep Pathak. Cabinet minister Harpal Cheema has been made the minister in charge of the campaign and Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has made several rounds of the constituency.
The Dhindsas and Bhattals have also been missing from campaigning. Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, president of SAD (Sanyukt) and an ally of the BJP, has been absent. While senior Congress leader Lal Singh has stayed away, former PPCC chief Shamsher Singh Dullo and former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal too have not campaigned yet.