Punjab Elections 2022: Gloves are off between BJP heavyweight Manoranjan Kalia, his worst enemy Rajinder Beri

Rajesh MoudgilUpdated: Wednesday, February 16, 2022, 08:43 PM IST
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Punjab Elections 2022: Gloves are off between BJP heavyweight Manoranjan Kalia, his worst enemy Rajinder Beri | Photo: Facebook

Chandigarh: Stage is set for one of the fiercest electoral fights in the single-phase February 20 Punjab assembly polls with the BJP veteran Manoranjan Kalia and his enemy number one and Congress’ sitting legislator Rajinder Beri launching full-scale offensive against each other, once again, in the Jalandhar (central) assembly seat.

Though the Jalandhar (central) has been a BJP citadel, Beri, 59, has been a staunch rival of Kalia, about 63, since the past about two decades.

A BJP stalwart and former Cabinet minister, Kalia has won this seat thrice – 1997, 2007 and 2012, and he had defeated Beri with a meagre margin of 1075 votes in 2012. The seat was earlier represented thrice by Kalia’s father Manmohan Kalia, a five-time MLA.

But the Congress’ sitting legislator Beri avenged his defeat by trouncing Kalia from this seat with the margin of about 25,000 votes in 2017 assembly polls.

Beri began his political career from the Congress student wing and remained Punjab Youth Congress general secretary in early 1990s. While he got elected as a councillor twice subsequently, he became trustee of Jalandhar Improvement Trust in 2002 and district Congress president till 2017 when he gave Kalia a drubbing.

Though a heavyweight, Kalia has another threat – and a big one – of opposition against him from within BJP. Kalia has been working overtime to ensure a win for himself also highlighting various developmental works done during his stint as Cabinet minister.

Beri, who knows the constituency pulse, is using his personal associations with people who matter in this fight.

Sources in the saffron party say that among Kalia’s detractors is former BJP leader Kishan Lal Sharma whose supporters are campaigning against Kalia.

Kalia, however, is confident of his various developmental works and also highlights how he got various grants to the city during the last term when he was not a minister. The former Cabinet minister holds the sway among the common masses though, the political observers foresee a pitched battle this time.

Meanwhile, even though it said to be a straight contest between Kalia and Beri, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has fielded Chandan Kumar Grewal, a Dalit candidate, who has the potential to influence the SC votes which are in huge number in the constituency.

HOT SEAT: JALANDHAR CENTRAL

Total voters: 1.74 lakh

Male: 90,125

Female: 83,871

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