Jalandhar West bye-elections: Major party candidates for the SC reserved seat file their nominations, know their background

The candidates selected by the three major political parties in Jalandhar West tell the tale of the SCs in the constituency and their relationship to their professions

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Jalandhar West Bye-elections 2024 are just around the corner and as such candidates have begun filing their nomination papers. Three candidates from the major political parties, SAD, Congress and AAP filed their nomination papers on Thursday. The candidates selected by the three major political parties in the Jalandhar West constituency tell the tale of the scheduled castes in the constituency and their relationship to their professional backgrounds, as well as caste and regional identities. There is a caste fault line, but two distinct castes share a traditional vocation and a regional identity. Here, there is a caste with two distinct regional identities that characterize differences in their professional backgrounds and a minor social divide.

Mohinder Bhagat, Aam Aadmi Party

AAP candidate Mohinder Bhagat is a member of the Megh community, which is now more well known as the Bhagat community and follows Bhagat Kabir. After Partition, the whole Bhagat community—whose roots are in Sialkot, Pakistan—migrated. Though they are settled in other parts of Jalandhar city, their main concentration is in Jalandhar West and they have the capacity to tilt the electoral result. AAP expects the consolidation of Bhagat community behind him.

The father of Mohinder Bhagat, Chunni Lal Bhagat, began his career as an employee in the sports sector before starting his own business in 1961. He was a BJP MLA for three terms before becoming a minister and leader of the BJP’s legislature party in 2012.

The Bhagat community was first involved in weaving, but once textile industries took up their work, they became heavily involved in the manufacturing of sporting goods in Sialkot. Many of them began working in this sports industry, which was primarily a cottage industry, after they moved to Jalandhar. Some of them later became entrepreneurs and opened up business establishments.

Sheetal Angural, BJP

BJP Candidate Sheetal Angural comes from Sialkot-Ravidasia community, who migrated from Sialkot and followed Guru Ravidas. At Sialkot, community members had entered the sports goods manufacturing industry, despite their initial job with leather."Our community worked in making leather products. They largely dealt with split leather or dried leather products, and did not deal or work with raw hide, unlike local Ravidasia/Ad-dharmis of Jalandhar. Several from our community worked in sports goods, especially football stitching. Then they got into other products also as workers or taking contracts for working at their home. Quite a few of them grew into setting up their own small units and some managed to build big units," said former MP Sushil Rinku, who also comes from the same community and whose family also started on these lines and then had its own thriving business. Angural has been narrating his family's story about how his elders started as workers in the sports industry and worked hard to build a fortune.

Sheetal Angural, submitted his nomination paperwork on Thursday. Along with other top BJP leaders, Union Minister Ravneet Bittu participated in a roadshow that he and other BJP leaders organized in the constituency. Afterwards, he submitted his nomination in the presence of former MP Sushil Rinku, former MLA KD Bhandari, and former minister Manoranjan Kalia.

Surjit Kaur, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) selected Surjit Kaur, a two-time former councillor, as their candidate for the Jalandhar West bye-election. Her late spouse, Pritam Singh, continued to serve on the council. A panel consisting of Bibi Jagir Kaur, the head of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Banga MLA Sukhwinder Kumar Sukhi, former MLA Gurpartap Singh Wadala, and Mohinder Singh Kaypee, the SAD candidate for Jalandhar in the Lok Sabha elections, decided on her candidacy. Both SAD and Congress chose ground-level workers and former female council members.

Surinder Kaur, Congress

Congress candidate Surinder Kaur, hails from the nearby Ravidasia/Ad-dharmi clan. Her late husband, Ram Asra Chaudhary, owned and operated a tannery. Seth Satpal Mal, a longtime member of the community and head of the Punjab Hide and Skin Association, stated, "Local Ravidasia-Ad-dharmi community members have been into raw hide work and trade, and several of them established their own successful businesses both as manufacturers and traders."

Despite having the same caste, Sialkot Ravidasia and the locals typically do not marry each other. There are, however, some exceptions. These days, there are more and more exceptions. According to a Sialkot Ravidasia "One can easily make out the regional identity from the different gotras (sub-caste names) that local and Sialkotia Ravidasia have."

Other candidates:

Additionally, Sarabjit Singh Khalsa of SAD (Amritsar) and Binder Lakha of the BSP submitted their nomination papers.

Jalandhar West Bye elections schedule:

The official gazette notification was issued on June 14, 2024, marking the formal commencement of the election process. Prospective candidates must file their nominations by June 21, 2024. The scrutiny of nomination papers will take place on June 24, 2024, ensuring all candidates meet the necessary eligibility criteria.

Candidates would be able to withdraw their nomination papers on June 26, 2024. The bye-election polling is scheduled for July 10, 2024, and the counting of votes will be done on July 13, 2024. The entire election process will be completed by July 15, 2024.