Dhuri: The battle for Dhuri seat
in the upcoming Punjab polls is a do-or-die affair for the
family of former chief minister Surjit Singh Barnala to stay
alive in political spheres of the state.
Once a politically influential family, the Barnalas are
now fighting for survival in politics since they have quit the
ruling SAD headed by Parkash Singh Badal.
The Barnalas have remained sidelined ever since they
parted ways with the Badals` after the 2007 polls and floated
SAD (Longowal) about two years ago.
However, Barnala is eyeing a comeback in Punjab politics
through his son Gaganjit Singh Barnala, who is pitted against
Congress` Arvind Khanna, the "right hand man" of the party`s
Punjab chief Amarinder Singh and former Akali minister Gobind
Gaganjit, who had won Dhuri seat in 2002 on SAD ticket
but lost it in 2007 to SAD rebel and independent candidate
Iqbal Singh Jhunda by a margin of over 10,000 votes, is
depending on his mother SAD (Longowal) chief Surjit Kaur
Barnala who is actively canvassing for him.
A major cause of concern for Gaganjit is octogenarian
Barnala`s ailing health. The former Tamil Nadu governor is not
able to campaign for his son with the same energy and
intensity as on previous occasions.
Barnala was elected twice to Parliament (1977 and 1998)
from Sangrur and had served as a union minister on both the
He was the Chief Minister of Punjab during mid-1980`s. In
1999 he lost the parliamentary elections to Simranjit Singh
Mann from the same seat. Barnala`s wife Surjit was elected MLA
from Barnala in 1977. After Barnala`s loss in 1999 Lok Sabha
polls, the family lost its hold on Barnala Assembly segment.
The elections to the 117-member Punjab Assembly will be
held on January 30.