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Punjab Assembly Elections: Four south Malwa seats with low literacy get highly educated candidates

 

 Amid cacophonous poll time, there is a heart-warming picture emerging from parts of the under-developed south Malwa region of Punjab; three constituencies in its Mansa district which has the lowest literacy rate in the state - has for the first time highly educated candidates fielded by all the main political parties.

Against the state’s average literacy of 76.7%, Mansa district had the poorest literacy rate of 62.8 % as per the 2011 Census reports. The female literacy rate was 56.4% and male, 62.8%.

In the fray this time, there are medical professionals, engineers, and candidates having master’s degrees and even one with a doctorate degree fielded by all the main political parties and all of them promising better educational and employment avenues, besides other developments to the district.

Congress has fielded Ranveer Kaur Mian, 30, who is Ph.D. in English and an MBA in Budhlada, a reserved seat. Wife of the village Mian sarpanch, she is contesting an election for the first time. The incumbent legislator here, the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP’s) Budh Ram, 65, has five master’s degrees to his credit, was a former school principal when he won the 2017 election. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) nominee Nishan Singh Hakamwala, 50, is a surgeon, practicing in Mansa city.

Dr. Vijay Singla, 52, the AAP candidate from the Mansa seat, is a practicing dentist. The incumbent AAP MLA, Nazar Singh Manshahia who had recently hopped over to Congress is not in the fray as he has not been given a ticket by it. Congress has fielded the popular rapper Shubhdeep Singh aka Sidhu Moosewala, 28, who has a huge following on social media. He is an engineering graduate. The SAD candidate Prem Kumar Arora, however, has studied only up to class IX.

In the Sardulgarh seat, the SAD’s incumbent MLA Dilraj Bhunder, 53, who has again been fielded, is a graduate in engineering from Punjabi University. While Congress candidate Bikram Singh Mofar is a graduate, The AAP’s Gurpreet Singh Banawali is a law graduate and the CPI (M) candidate Kulwinder Singh who is also a law graduate also holds a master’s degree. Both of them are first-timers.

Even though Congress had swept the 2017 polls in the state, it failed to win any of the three seats in Mansa district. The AAP won two seats of Mansa and Budhlada and SAD won Sardulgarh.

Notably, in the Fazilka district which also falls in south Malwa, it is for the first time that any of the main political parties have fielded women candidates from the reserved seat of Balluana.

The Congress has fielded Rajinder Kaur Rajpura, 51, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Vandana Sangwal, from Balluana, a segment that has a sizeable Hindi speaking population. Kaur holds a postgraduate degree in Hindi while Sangwal is MA (sociology). Both of them are first-timers and have no political background.

Ferozepur in 2011, when Fazilka was part of it, had a poor literacy rate of 69.8%.

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