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Punjab bypolls: Cracks in PDA, BJP-SAD combine in Phagwara

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Press Trust of India Phagwara
Cracks surfaced in the Punjab Democratic Alliance and the SAD-BJP combine in Phagwara on Monday with leaders from both the groupings filing their nomination papers for the assembly bypolls.
In a jolt to the PDA, while Jarnail Nangal, SC wing president of the Lok Insaaf Party (LIP), filed his nomination papers for the October 21 bypolls, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Bhagwan Das Sidhu too has thrown the hat into the ring.
An Akali leader and Ward No. 36 councillor, Baljinder Singh Thekedar, filed his papers as an Independent despite the BJP fielding Rajesh Bagha from the assembly segment.
LIP chief Simarjit Singh Bains has declared not to withdraw the candidature of Nangal, saying in Lok Sabha polls, the LIP had left the Hoshiarpur seat for the BSP on the condition that they would be contesting from Phagwara in the assembly polls.
"I appeal to the BSP to adopt Nangal and I will campaign for them on other seats," said Bains here, urging PDA leaders not to pressure him but prepare for the assembly polls on the lines of the 'one pardhan,one nishan and one vidhan'.
Reacting to it, Punjab Ekta Party chief Sukhpal Singh Khaira and BSP's state president Jasbir Singh Garhi urged the LIP chief Simarjit Singh Bains to withdraw their candidate and support the BSP nominee for the sake of keeping the alliance intact and provide a third alternative to people.
Talking to the newsmen here, both leaders of the PDA said Bains had some "unfortunate misunderstanding" due to which they fielded Nangal.
"Even at a September 26 meeting, we urged him to leave Phagwara for the BSP and field his candidate from Dakha," they said.
Rashpal Raju, a former Punjab BSP president, said even during the Lok Sabha polls, none had told Bains to field his candidate from Phagwara.
"We urge our brother Bains to withdraw the candidature of Nangal for the sake of the spirit of the alliance," they pleaded.
"Even other leaders of the PDA, including Dharamvira Gandhi of the Punjab Front, Bant Singh Brar of the CPI, Mangat Ram Pasla of the RMPI and Kiranjit Singh Sekhon of the MCPI, had earlier appealed to Bains to leave the Phagwara seat for the BSP," they said.
When asked whether they would support the LIP from Dakha if party refused to withdraw its candidate, the leaders said it would be decided on October 3, the date for the withdrawal of nominations.
On the other hand, SAD's SC wing vice-president and councillor Baljinder Singh Thekedar said he had filed his papers as an independent in protest against the fielding of an outsider from Phagwara and the denial of deputy mayor's post to him.
Thekedar said he did not take any SAD leader into confidence and filed the nomination on his own.
"It was a misfortune for Phagwara that outsiders are fielded from here. BJP nominee Rakesh Bagha is an outsider as he belongs to Jalandhar," he said, adding that he had people's support.
"I am a local and have support of people, especially the youth," he claimed.
Punjab BJP chief Shwait Malik said the matter would be resolved amicably.

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First Published: Sep 30 2019 | 8:00 PM IST

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