Akali Dal announces 69 candidates for Punjab assembly polls

Chandigarh, Nov 16 (IANS) Punjab’s ruling Shiromani Akali Dal on Wednesday announced its first list of 69 candidates for the forthcoming state assembly elections early next year.

Prominent names in the first list, released by Akali Dal President Sukhbir Badal, include his brothers-in-law — Punjab Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia, and Food and Supplies Minister Adaish Pratap Singh Kairon.

The list includes sitting and former ministers of the Akali Dal government.

The sitting ministers include Daljeet Singh Cheema, Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, Parminder Singh Dhindsa, Gulzar Singh Ranike, Sikander Singh Malooka, Janmeja Singh Sekhon, Tota Singh, Surjit Singh Rakhra, Sohal Singh Thandal and Ajit Singh Kohar.

However, prominently missing from tghe first list are the names of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son and Deputy Chief Minister, Sukhbir Badal himself.

The Akali Dal, which has been in power in Punjab since 2007 with alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is to contest for 94 out of the 117 assembly seats.

The remaining 23 seats are to be contested by the BJP under a seat sharing arrangement between the two ruling partners.

“All the cabinet ministers will contest for their respective assembly segments, barring Parminder Singh Dhindsa. He will contest from Lehragaga instead of Sunam. The second list of the party will also be released soon in the coming days,” Badal said after releasing the first list.

Former Olympian and Indian hockey team ex-captain Pargat Singh, who resigned from the Akali Dal recently, has been replaced by another candidate from the Jalandhar Cantt assembly seat.

The BJP is yet to announce its candidates.

The main opposition Congress also is yet to announce its candidates for the assembly polls which are likely to be held in the last week of January or early February.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is challenging the Akali Dal-BJP combine as well as the Congress in the assembly elections, has announced 62 candidates so far.