BJP releases first list of 34 candidates for Punjab polls

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NEW DELHI: The BJP on Friday released its first list of 34 candidates, including 13 Sikhs, nine Dalits and two women, for the election to the 117-member Punjab assembly.

Releasing the list, BJP general secretary Tarun Chugh said the party has given representation to all sections of society and the first list included 12 persons from farmer families, nine from Scheduled Castes, and some professionals.

Of the total 34 candidates, nine are Dalits. Several of them belong to Other Backward Classes (OBCs), party leaders said.

The names include former minister Manoranjan Kalia, Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, a sitting MLA who quit the Congress to join the party recently, Arvind Khanna and Kanwarveer Singh Tohra, the grandson of late Akali stalwart Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

Speaking on the occasion, Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri slammed the Congress government in the state and said Punjab was the nation’s pride but things have taken a turn for the worse there.

Assembly polls will be held in the state on February 20.

The BJP is fighting the polls in alliance with former chief minister Amarinder Singh’s Punjab Lok Congress and Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa’s SAD (Sanyukt).

Sources in the BJP said the party has reached a broader agreement with its allies and will contest on 65 seats, while the Punjab Lok Congress and the SAD (Sanyukt) will get 34 and 18 seats respectively.

The BJP is also in talks to forge alliance with another regional party, the Lok Insaf Party, which has some influence in and around Ludhiana, sources said.

In the last polls, the BJP had contested on 23 seats in alliance with the Shriomani Akali Dal and won only three seats.

The party later lost the bypoll in one of the seats and has only two sitting MLAs now. (PTI)