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Cong announces candidates for 4 Punjab seats, SAD-BJP for 1

twitter-logoPTI | September 23, 2019 | Updated 20:31 IST

(Eds: adds other parties) Chandigarh, Sep 23 (PTI) The Congress on Monday took the lead in announcing candidates for the upcoming bypolls to four Assembly seats in Punjab, while the SAD-BJP combine named its candidate for one seat. By-elections to the four vacant Assembly seats of Phagwara, Jalalabad, Dakha and Mukerian would be held on October 21. Sandeep Singh Sandhu, political secretary to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, has been fielded from Dakha seat, while former state youth Congress chief Raminder Amla will contest from Jalalabad, a party statement said. The ruling party in Punjab announced Indu Bala as its candidate from Mukerian and senior IAS officer Balwinder Singh Dhaliwal was named party nominee from the Phagwara (reserved) seat. "I am confident that we will sweep the upcoming bye-elections. The people will once again reject divisive & regressive policies of the opposition parties," Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said in his tweet in the evening. The Shiromani Akali Dal announced Manpreet Singh Ayali as the candidate for the SAD-BJP combine for the Dakha assembly seat. "Sukhbir Singh Badal has announced Manpreet Singh Ayali as SAD-BJP candidate from Dakha assembly constituency for the coming bye-election," SAD spokesperson Daljit Singh Cheema tweeted in the evening. Out of the four seats, the SAD the will field candidates in Jalalabad and Dakha, while its ally BJP will contest in the Phagwara and Mukerian seats.  However, no nominations were filed on Monday, the first day for submitting the papers for the bypolls, a spokesman for the Chief Electoral Officer, Punjab, said. The bypoll in the Dakha seat was necessitated after former AAP legislator and noted Supreme Court lawyer H S Phoolka's resignation was accepted by the Punjab Assembly speaker last month. The Mukerian seat fell vacant following the death of Congress MLA Rajnish Kumar Babbi last month.        In the BJP, Arunesh Shakar, Jangi Lal Mahajan and Sangarm Singh are said to be in the race for this seat. Two top BJP leaders are lobbying for a party ticket for their family members from Phagwara, sources said. While Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Som Prakash is seeking the ticket for his wife Anita, former Union minister Vijay Sampla wants it for his son Sahil, they said. Senior BJP leader and former chairman of Punjab Scheduled Castes Commission, Rajesh Bagha is also a frontrunner for the Phagwara seat, the sources added. The Phagwara assembly seat vacant after sitting MLA Som Parkash was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Hoshiarpur parliamentary segment. In the SAD, Puran Singh and Prem Valecha are in contention for the ticket for Jalalabad, which is known to be a party bastion. Puran Singh belongs to the Rai Sikh community that holds sway in this assembly segment. The Jalalabad seat fell vacant after sitting MLA Sukhbir Singh Badal was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Ferozepur parliamentary constituency in the recent general elections. In the 117-member Punjab Assembly, the Congress at present has 77 legislators and the SAD is with 13 MLAs, while the strength of the AAP is 19. The BJP and the Lok Insaaf Party have two MLAs each. PTI CHS VSD SKC IJT

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