BJP ‘tried to woo’ 3 top Akali leaders in Punjab

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BJP ‘tried to woo’ 3 top Akali leaders in Punjab
Chandigarh: The SAD’s two-day brain-storming session to zero in on the Lok Sabha candidates began today amid reports that the BJP had reportedly got in touch with three top Akali leaders. Sources said the saffron outfit had contacted former MP Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, former ministers Surjit Singh Rakhra, Sikander Singh Maluka and his son Gurpreet Singh Maluka.

Sources revealed that Chandumajra was offered the ticket from Anandpur Sahib, where he had unsuccessfully contested the 2019 General Election against Manish Tewari of the Congress, but he opted to stay with the Akali Dal. This time, the SAD wants to field him from Anandpur Sahib, but he could also be fielded from the Patiala parliamentary constituency against the BJP candidate, Preneet Kaur, and former AAP MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi, who today joined the Congress and is likely to contest on the party ticket.

Chandumajra and his son have influence in certain pockets of Patiala whereas the Anandpur Sahib seat has considerable following of the Congress and the BJP. In case, Chandumajra shifts to Patiala, SAD spokesperson Dr Daljeet Singh Cheema may contest from Anandpur Sahib. He has been actively pursuing the ticket from this constituency.

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Sources said talks were held with Sikander Singh Maluka, his son Gurpreet and Surjit Singh Rakhra, separately. Rakhra enjoys close proximity with the BJP’s central leadership as his family does business in the USA. So far, the Maluka family has not said yes to the BJP as it had remained with the Akali Dal through thick and thin.

Sources said the traditional BJP leaders from the state, besides the RSS, was not in favour of taking Akali leaders into the party fold. They said if such was the case, then the BJP should had gone for a pact with SAD.

Though Anil Joshi, who joined SAD in 2021 after being expelled by the BJP, is likely to be fielded from Amritsar, the party is finding it hard to select nominees for Khadoor Sahib, Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur. Despite Bikram Majithia being a campaign in-charge of Khadoor Sahib, the party may not field him from here as SAD plans to follow one family, one ticket policy in the Lok Sabha poll.

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