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Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Khalistan preacher Amritpal makes poll play from jail

The Bhindranwale-loving, Constitution-hating preacher's decision to contest as an independent from the Khadoor Sahib parliamentary constituency, which goes to polls on June 1, has spiced up the contest.
Last Updated : 28 May 2024, 23:25 IST
Last Updated : 28 May 2024, 23:25 IST

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Khadoor Sahib/Chandigarh: Khalistan sympathiser Amritpal Singh, who roiled Punjab politics last year with his outlandish utterances and ended up in an Assam jail, may be down, but not out.

The Bhindranwale-loving, Constitution-hating preacher's decision to contest as an independent from the Khadoor Sahib parliamentary constituency, which goes to polls on June 1, has spiced up the contest.

That Amritpal has been brazen enough to test poll waters while cooling his heels in Dibrugarh jail shows that radicalism still has slivers of support in the state that was upended by a bloody insurgency in the 1980s.

Khadoor Sahib was a hotbed of militancy during the dark days of terrorism in Punjab. The constituency has been a traditional stronghold of the SAD (Badal), with people voting for the SAD a record nine times in previous elections. It is being said that Amritpal’s entry is likely to dent SAD’s Panthic vote bank.

The jailed leader, booked under the National Security Act (NSA), is garnering support; his supporters say the outcome on June 4 will surprise Punjab. And the source of their confidence? A series of realignments that have taken place this year.

In the 2019 election, Paramjit Kaur Khalra, wife of human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra, who was abducted and forcibly disappeared in 1995, contested the elections unsuccessfully.

But she managed to bag a 20% vote share as an independent. Former Army chief Gen JJ Singh, who too was in the fray in the 2019 elections from Khadoor Sahib, has decided to withdraw his candidature in support of Paramjit Kaur. Kaur, with her support base, this time is seeking votes for Amritpal.

Simranjit Singh Mann-led Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) has decided to withdraw the party nominee from the constituency, virtually throwing its lot with Amritpal.

The SAD has fielded a strong candidate, Virsa Singh Valtoha, with an eye on the Panthic votes and is going all guns blazing against Amritpal sensing a tough fight.

Political observers say that Amritpal’s strategy is to leverage upon Paramjit Kaur's 20% vote share besides eating into the SAD’s vote share in the last elections.

The BJP has fielded Manjit Singh Manna, while AAP has given ticket to three-time MLA Laljit Singh Bhullar. Former MLA Kulbir Singh Zira is in the fray from the Congress.

All eyes will be on June 4.  

Everything to know about Amritpal Singh

Chief of ‘Waris Punjab De’ Amritpal was arrested last April after a month-long manhunt. Amritpal eulogises slain Khalistani extremist Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.

He returned from Dubai and took centre stage in the state attempting to champion the cause of Sikhism by giving inflammatory speeches. Amritpal and his supporters many armed with swords and guns stormed a police station on the outskirts of Amritsar city in February last year to free a supporter.

Lok Sabha Elections 2024 | Will it be Narendra Modi's 'Viksit Bharat' or Rahul Gandhi's I.N.D.I.A.? As the world's largest democracy votes to choose its future, track live news, in-depth opinions, and analyses only on Deccan Herald.

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Published 28 May 2024, 23:25 IST

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