Akali Dal announces 48 names for Punjab assembly polls

Chandigarh, Dec 23 (IANS) The Shiromani Akali Dal Friday announced its first list of 48 candidates for the Punjab assembly election to be held in February next year.

The list was announced by Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal here.

Akali Dal patron and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal will contest from his traditional constituency of Lambi in Muktsar district.

The list includes the name of Darbara Singh Guru, serving principal secretary to the chief minister, and Paramdeep Singh Gill, who retired recently as director general of police (DGP).

Political parties in the state, including the Congress, had complained to the Election Commission of India (EC) earlier this year that both officers, Guru and Gill, were misusing their official positions to nurse particular assembly seats to fulfil their political ambitions.

They had demanded that these officers, who were holding sensitive positions, should be asked to resign or be removed from their posts.

While Guru will now contest from the Bhadaur (reserved) constituency, Gill, who retired Sep 30 this year and was appointed as special advisor to the home minister (Sukhbir Badal), will contest from the Moga assembly seat. Another Punjab Civil Services (PCS) officer S.R. Kler has been fielded by the party from the Jagraon seat.

Sukhbir Badal?s brother-in-law and Youth Akali Dal president Bikram Singh Majithia will contest from the Majitha seat.

Food and Supplies Minister and chief minister Badal?s son-in-law Adaish Pratap Singh Kairon will again contest from the Patti seat. Another relative of the Badals, minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon will contest from the Mour seat.

The list does not include the name or constituency of Sukhbir Badal himself.

Other prominent leaders whose names were announced Friday include assembly Speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon (Fatehgarh Churian), former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Jagir Kaur (Bholath), ministers Sucha Singh Langah (Dera Baba Nanak), Gulzar Singh Ranike (Attari-reserved), Ranjit Singh Brahmpura (Khadoor Sahib), Upinderjit Kaur (Sultanpur Lodhi), Ajit Singh Kohar (Shahkot), Hira Singh Gabria (Atam Nagar) and Parminder Singh Dhindsa (Sunam).

The Akali Dal is likely to contest 67 seats in the 90-member house leaving 23 seats for its alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Both have been running the alliance government in Punjab since March 2007. Both parties are likely to finalize the seat-sharing at a meeting in Jalandhar Saturday.