Punjab Assembly Elections 2022: Key Contests to Watch

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Punjab Assembly Elections 2022

The Punjab Assembly elections in 2022 this time took the form of multi-point polls. Voters across the state have been following the moves of the leading candidates and their parties and are now ready to press the button on February 20, 2022. The counting of those votes will take place on March 10, 2022.

There are 1,304 candidates running for these elections in 117 assembly constituencies in 23 districts of Punjab. Although the Jat vote bank was a decisive deciding factor, the Dalits – who make up 32% of Punjab’s population – can in no way be undermined.

Farm laws and farmer unrest have been at the heart of state politics for more than a year, and each candidate has tried to twist the narrative to suit their version. Besides, the threat of drugs, unemployment, sand mafia, sacrilege cases and incidents of desecration of Guru Granth Sahib remain hot potatoes in Punjab politics.

Here are some key players who will shape the course of Punjab over the next five years by forming government or opposition.

Charanjit Singh Channi – Congress

Charanjit Singh Channi, a prominent face of the next Chief Minister of Punjab, will present himself from the seat of Chamkaur Sahib. Known as the Dalit face of Congress, Channi’s rise to fame began around the time of the clash between Congress and Captain Amarinder Singh. Ironically, the 27th CM of Punjab was also inducted into the Congress by the captain himself in 2010.

The first Dalit-Sikh chief minister of Punjab has already won the seat of Chamkaur Sahib, in 2007, 2012 and 2017. When he came to power, his new portfolio gave front-row representation to the social group that forms more of 30% of the population. the population of the state.

Bhagwant Mann – PAA

AAP took advantage of Bhagwant Mann’s vast fanbase in Punjab just as viewers loved his screen presence. The comedian-turned-politician is a Lok Sabha MP from Sangrur and will be running from the Dhuri Assembly seat. This election could be another high point in Mann’s political career as he is a front-runner in the race for the next state CM, also being a worthy correction to the AAP’s previous mistakes.

Bhagwant Mann’s first election run in 2012, Punjab Assembly polls did not garner many votes. However, he is famous for his victory in 2014 in Sangrur district. As the only AAP leader to be elected to the Lok Sabha twice, the controversial comedian was an obvious chief ministerial candidate for the AAP. Like many others, Mann promised to eliminate the threat of drugs while increasing job opportunities.

Captain Amarinder Singh – Punjab Lok Congress

The titular Maharaja of Patiala maintains his royal presence in the state election fray, inside or outside Congress.

Unfiltered and outspoken in his opinions, Amarinder Singh has become a focal point for several members of Congress, including Sidhu for his inaction on the issue of sacrilege, among others. Breaking his alliance with the Congress, Singh is currently the founder of the Punjab Lok Congress, a party which has entered into an alliance with the BJP for the upcoming elections.

Navjot Singh Sidhu – Congress

Sidhu welcomed Rahul Gandhi’s remark that he was named the ‘Super CM’ of Punjab. After a long war with Captain Amarinder Singh which led to the latter’s resignation from the party and as CM, Sidhu was a constant agitator in the big old party. This time, he is running from East Amritsar constituency, having issued a categorical challenge to SAD leader Majithia. Even in the past, Sidhu won seats in 2012 and 2017.

Since Channi was nominated CM candidate of Punjab by the Congress, Sidhu shayaris have also been targeted to refute Channi’s common man position. Political analysts believe that Navjot Singh Sidhu may be the tricky bridge that may prove both instrumental in Congress victory in Punjab and also a reason for unstable government and infighting.

Bikram Singh Majithia – SAD

Bikram Singh Majithia is another incendiary leader in these polls. Giving strong competition to Sidhu, this senior SAD leader is ready to repeat the feat and maintain the winning streak. In 2012 and 2017 Majithia won the constituency of Majitha. The face of Akali Dal’s youth wing, he is still a strong contender with a loyal fan base in Punjab. His wife Ganieve Kaur is contesting from her husband’s stronghold of Majitha over the SAD ticket.

Sukhbir Singh Badal – SAD

Known for filling the shoes of SAD patriarch Parkash Singh Badal, his son Sukhbir Singh Badal is another legendary figure in Punjab politics. Chairman of Shiromani Akali Dal and MP for Ferozpur, Badal is now back in the Assembly fray and running from the seat of Jalalabad from where he won in 2012 and 2017. Badal is busy preparing to bring SAD back in the game and to show people how development isn’t just a paper phenomenon.

Ashwani Kumar Sharma – BJP

Busy promoting the “Modi model”, Ashwani Kumar Sharma, the leader of the BJP in Punjab, has been preparing the party for the upcoming polls in the state. Known for engineering the BJP’s alliance with the Captain’s Punjab Lok Congress, Sharma has been fighting from Pathankot from where he won the 2012 elections.

Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa – SAD(S)

From the return of Padma Bhushan following farmer protests to the vindication of the alliance with the BJP, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa is never far from the news. The MP for Rajya Sabha has always been an important face in Punjab politics since the 1980s.

In the upcoming Punjab polls, Dhindsa is a prominent figure due to his alliance with the BJP, which also sided with the Punjab Lok Congress. Around April 2021, Dhindsa, a fairly close ally of Parkash Singh Badal decided to leave SAD and form SAD(S) after merging Shiromani Akali Dal (Taksali) and Shiromani Akali Dal (Democrat). During the announcement of his party’s list of candidates, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa attracted a lot of attention by offering a ticket to his son Parminder Dhindsa. The son of the leader of SAD(S) will now flee Lehragaga, having already won it on an SAD ticket.

Balbir Singh Rajewal – SSM

The peasant movement that has taken the country by storm is now hoping to bring about change in Punjab’s elections. SSM leader Balbir Singh Rajewal will contest from Samrala, a seat won by Amrik Singh Dhillon on a Congressional ticket. The party’s decision to challenge the polls as independents came against the backdrop of an uphill battle by other major national and regional parties. SSM and Rajewal are hailed as representatives of farmers, but political analysts view this political foray with skepticism.

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