A Day after Crossing Over, Ex-Congress MLA is BJP’s Pick for Sangrur Bypolls in Punjab

A day after joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Kewal Dhillon is the party’s pick for the Sangrur Lok Sabha byelection.

Dhillon has been a two-time MLA from Barnala.

In the past, he held several important positions in the Congress. He was the senior vice-president of the Punjab Congress, member of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) and had contested the Lok Sabha election from Sangrur against Bhagwant Mann in 2019.

Dhillon, along with ex-ministers Balbir Singh Sidhu, Raj Kumar Verka, Sunder Sham Arora and Gurpreet Kangar, crossed over to the BJP on Saturday. Former MLA Amrik Dhillon and Balbir Sidhu’s brother, Amarjit, who is the mayor of Mohali, too, followed suit.

Kewal Dhillon’s candidature was announced a day after the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-Bahujan Samaj Party declared their joint candidate. Trying to cash in on Panthic politics, the combine declared Kamaldeep Kaur Rajoana, death row convict Balwant Singh Rajoana’s foster sister, as its candidate for the Sangrur Lok Sabha bypoll.

The SAD seems to be courting radical Sikh groups after its drubbing in the Assembly elections, winning only three seats.

In a first, Sukhbir Badal visited Akali Dal (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann at the latter’s house in Sangrur on Friday, proposing a relative of one of the ‘Bandi Singhs (Sikh detainees)’ be fielded as a ‘consensus candidate’ against Aam Aadmi Party’s Gurmail Singh. Meetings were subsequently held in Amritsar and a list of Sikh prisoners, which included Rajoana, was prepared.

While Mann was keen on contesting as a joint candidate, Badal was reportedly against the move and instead wanted Rajoana’s sister as the candidate. Following the differences, Mann decided to file his nomination papers separately and SAD-BSP opted for Rajoana’s sister.

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