In a state where only 19 women are contesting Lok Sabha polls as against 234 men candidates, the Faridkot (SC) seat can boast of five of them in the fray with the sitting SAD MP Paramjit Kaur Gulshan taking on, among others, two contestants who share her first name.
Political observers are of the opinion that it will be a tough fight for anybody who is looking to unseat SAD in Faridkot, which is considered to be a traditional bastion of the Akalis. Seven of the nine Assembly segments in this constituency are with Shiromani Akali Dal while Congress has two legislators here.
Paramjit Kaur Gulshan, the candidate for the ruling SAD- BJP combine, had won the seat by a margin of over 60,000 votes in 2009 and would be confident about retaining it this time. Although her strongest challenger is certain to be three- time Congress MLA Joginder Singh, it is the presence in the fray of two other candidates with the same name which has added a curious twist to the contest. Her namesakes Paramjit Kaur of Bahujan Mukti Party and Paramjeet Kaur, who has entered the fray as an Independent, may not pose any significant threat to her although their presence on the list of candidates may confuse electors during voting.
But not only Gulshan, the man being seen as her most serious opponent here, Congress' Joginder Singh, too, has a rival in the fray who shares his name. The namesake Joginder Singh is contesting as an Independent candidate.
There are a total of 19 candidates in the fray for this reserved constituency and, apart from SAD-BJP and Congress, AAP, BSP and CPI, too, have fielded nominees here.
Polling in the constituency will be held on Wednesday. There are total 14.33 lakh voters.
Gulshan, the wife of a retired judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court, had defeated Congress' Sukhwinder Singh Danny here in 2009. But this time she may have to contend against an anti- incumbency factor with her detractors claiming she has stayed away from the constituency. Adding to the concerns for Gulshan would be the absence of local leaders like former DGP Paramdeep Singh Gill, who has left for Bathinda to assist chief minister Parkash Badal's daughter-in-law Harsimrat Kaur Badal in electioneering there. That apart, a number of Akali workers from the area have left for Amritsar to bolster the campaign of BJP candidate Arun Jaitley.
Congress' Joginder Singh would be looking to use the above factors to his advantage and says he has accepted the challenge to defeat SAD here as it is yet another opportunity for him to prove his fighting skills. "I am determined to wrest this seat from Akali Dal," stresses Joginder. Joginder, the sitting MLA from Jaitu, one of the Assembly segments under the Faridkot constituency, is also a former president of the FCI workers' union and labourers from the corporation are helping him with campaigning in Moga, Faridkot and Jaitu.
Alleging that both Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia are taking control of, among others, the sand and transport business in Punjab, the Congress MLA also accused them of rampant drug addiction problem in Punjab.
But attempts by Aam Aadmi Party to gain a foothold in Punjab may end up ruining the calculations for Gulshan and Joginder in Faridkot. The AAP candidate here, Sadhu Singh, is a crowd-puller and he routinely lashes out at seasoned politicians during his public meetings. He tells voters that his prime objective is to bring back on track the stalled projects in the Faridkot Lok Sabha constituency and give literature and culture its due place in society.