The Aam Aadmi Party, which created a buzz when it promised to give every woman in Punjab a monthly allowance of Rs 1,000 if voted to power, has allotted only around 10 per cent of its seats to women. Of the 106 candidates that the AAP has announced so far for the 117-seat Punjab Assembly, only 12 are women.
Most of the 12 women who did get a ticket, however, are home-grown leaders who have worked their way into contention.
Baljinder Kaur and Saravjit Kaur Manuke, sitting MLAs from Talwandi Sabo and Jagraon (reserved) respectively, were among the first on the list.
Baljinder Kaur emerged as a close confidante of the AAP’s Delhi leadership during the last five years. Her name has made the rounds as a potential chief ministerial candidate for the party, and is a leader who is seen as one of the AAP’s safest bets in Punjab.
Manuke, on the other hand, sparked some controversy during her tenure and nearly quit the AAP before she was again nominated as a candidate to avert defection.
The party’s candidate from Kharar, Anmol Gagan Maan, is a singer-turned-politician who got the key post of AAP youth wing vice president as soon as she joined the party in July 2020. She has been known to make
bold and aggressive public statements. Recently she also sang a song in praise of AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the context of the upcoming elections.
Neena Mittal, the candidate from Rajpura, comes from a business family and has been with the party since 2013. She worked for the AAP in Delhi also, and was given the party ticket from the Patiala Lok Sabha seat in 2019.
Narinder Kaur Bharaj came to the limelight while working for the AAP in the Sangrur parliamentary constituency during the 2014 election in which Bhagwant Mann became an MP for the first time. However, there was controversy over giving her a ticket from Sangrur, as she was expected to contest from a rural constituency.
The AAP’s candidate from Nakodar, Inderjit Kaur Maan, is known for developing her village Bir with funds collected from NRIs. She switched to the AAP from Shiromani Akali Dal in October 2021.
Former chairperson of the permanent Lok Adalat at Kapurthala, Manju Rana, is the AAP’s candidate from Kapurthala seat. She was removed from her Lok Adalat post after she had slapped a fine of Rs 10,000 on Brahm Mohindra, the then Punjab health minister, for ignoring her orders in 2018. She had also passed some popular judgments related to a toll plaza and a famous dhaba in Jalandhar.
Ludhiana South candidate Rajinder Pal Kaur Chhina has been working with Kejriwal ever since the Anna Hazare-led movement that brought the AAP chief into the limelight.
Jeevanjot Kaur, who has also been working with party for a long time, got a ticket for the first time from Amritsar East, the constituency where Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu is sitting MLA.
Santosh Kataria, the AAP candidate for Balachaur, comes from a political family. She first contested elections from Balachaur in 2007, and she has also been a chairperson of the zila parishad.
Ophthalmologist Dr Baljit Kaur, the daughter for former AAP MP Sadhu Singh, got a ticket from the reserved constituency of Malout.
The party’s women’s wing vice president, Dr Amandeep Kaur Arora, surprised many when she was announced as the candidate from Moga, where senior leader Navdeep Sangha was said to be in the race. Sangha joined the farmers’ unions’ Sanyukt Samaj Morcha, and will contest from Moga for the SSM.