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Punjab Assembly polls: Denial of Congress ticket pushes the Barnalas further into oblivion

During the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the Barnalas were a part of the Sanja Morcha, comprising Manpreet Badal’s People’s Party of Punjab and Left parties in the state.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh |
December 17, 2016 12:07:31 am

Once politically influential, the family of Surjit Singh Barnala has lost another chance to come out of oblivion, with the Congress denying the former Akali Chief Minister’s grandson a ticket to contest the 2017 Assembly elections.

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Simar Partap Singh Barnala, who contested the Dhuri bypoll on Congress symbol in 2015, had applied for the ticket from the same constituency, but the party has nominated Dalvir Singh Goldy, a youth Congress leader and a confidant of AICC secretary Harish Choudhary.

Barnalas had merged their Shiormani Akali Dal (Longowal) with the Congress earlier this year after the family met AICC President Sonia Gandhi in Delhi. The SAD (Longowal), a panthic party, has some political clout in Barnala district. The merger was seen as a shot in the arm for the Congress at a time when Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) popularity was soaring in the state.

Sources said they were promised a ticket from Dhuri then. While Barnalas have not reacted openly to denial of ticket to them, sources close to them said they were chalking out their next course of action as it was too late for them to go anywhere else. AAP too has announced most of the tickets in Malwa region.

During the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the Barnalas were a part of the Sanja Morcha, comprising Manpreet Badal’s People’s Party of Punjab and Left parties in the state. They had supported Manpreet Badal when he had contested from the Bathinda Lok Sabha seat.

Barnala, a former Governor of Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh and Andamans and Nicobar Islands as well as a former Union minister, has been unwell for some time. His wife Surjit Kaur Barnala, who was named president of SAD (Longowal) in 2009, has been politically active.

Barnalas had agreed to contest Dhuri bypoll after being approached by the Congress. The ticket came when the family had been pushed to the fringes after Surijit Singh Barnala’s son, former MLA Gagan Ajit, was expelled by the SAD in 2009. Gagan Ajit Singh Barnala himself was an SAD MLA from 2002 to 2007 before losing in 2007.

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