Raising the slogan of ‘Jai Shri Ram’, Bhagwan Das Juneja, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate for the August 21 Patiala byelection, rolled out the party’s agenda – to woo Hindu voters. About 60% of the voters in the assembly segment are Hindus.
Juneja raised the slogan in the presence of SAD president and Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who was here on Thursday to launch the party candidate’s campaign. Juneja also filed his nomination papers on the occasion.
It is the first time that the SAD has fielded a Hindu from this seat. Sikh candidates have repeatedly lost from this assembly segment.
Juneja has a cordial relationship with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leadership, which pushed for his candidature, and the SAD wants to exploit it to check the influence of Congress heavyweight Preneet Kaur. Earlier, it was in 1997 that a major party (Congress) had fielded a Hindu candidate (Brahm Mohindra) from the Patiala city seat.
As the SAD leadership has nothing much to talk about local development, they are banking on the image of Juneja, who is a noted social worker.
While Sukhbir talked about Juneja’s contribution to the city, he took a dig at former local MLA and now Amritsar MP Capt Amarinder Singh by raising the issue of his ‘inaccessibility’.
“Whereas chief minister Parkash Singh Badal meets residents of Lambi every fortnight, Amarinder didn’t turn up even once after the 2012 assembly elections. He didn’t even bother to thank you for electing him,” said Sukhbir, adding that the SAD candidate would always be available for them.
Sukhbir said Preneet had nothing to list as her achievements in the past 15 years as the local MP. “As she did nothing, she has no right to ask for your votes,” he said.
The deputy chief minister also took a dig at the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), saying that it would be wiped out as its MPs Bhagwant Mann and Sadhu Singh had failed to live up to people’s expectations. The Patiala Lok Sabha seat is represented by AAP MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi.
He said as there was the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre and the SAD-BJP government in the state, Juneja’s victory would ensure all-round development in the city.
Education minister Daljit Singh Cheema, rural development minister Sikandar Singh Maluka, higher education minister Surjit Singh Rakhra and others also addressed the rally, which was attended by SAD-BJP leaders.
Bhagwan Das Juneja (SAD)
Poll record: First-timer
Total declared assets (including spouse’s): Rs. 5.2 crore
Movable: Rs. 40.6 lakh
Cash in hand: Rs. 5.4 lakh
Vehicle: Honda City worth Rs. 8.7 lakh
Jewellery: Rs. 1.2 lakh
Bank deposits: Rs. 19.4 lakh
Fixed deposit: LIC policy worth Rs. 2.5 lakh
Investments: Bonds worth Rs. 12,500
Immovable: Rs. 2.7 crore
Liabilities: Rs. 30.8 lakh
Movable: Rs. 10.9 lakh
Immovable: Rs. 1.9 crore