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Aam Aadmi Party yesterday released its first list of candidates for 19 constituencies for Punjab Assembly elections scheduled early next year, nominating senior lawyers H S Phoolka and Himmat Singh Shergill, stealing a march OVER its rivals Shiromani Akali Dal and Congress.
Besides Phoolka and Shergill, who will contest the polls from Dakha and Mohali respectively, the list includes several office-bearers of the party's youth wing, including Harjot Singh Bains, one of the founder members of the party in Punjab.
Bains, who heads the youth wing, will conest from Sahnewal. Two former basketball players, Arjuna awardee Sajjan Singh Cheema and Gurdit Singh Sekhon, who also figure in the list, will contest from Sultanpur Lodhi and Faridkot respectively.
The party has given tickets to two former members of Bahujan Samaj Party--Mohan Singh Phalianwala and Santokh Singh Salana. Phalianwala will contest from Ferozepur (Rural) and Salana from Bassi Pathana. Kultar Singh Sandhwa, a member of the extended family of former President Giani Zail Singh, will contest from Kotkapura.
The first list was announced here by AAP MP Bhagwant Mann who was accompanied by party's Punjab affairs in-charge Sanjay Singh and women's wing in-charge Baljinder Kaur.
"The party has allotted tickets to its committed workers and youth, who all have a clean image. We will soon release the next list," Mann said. 27-year-old law graduate Rupinder Kaur Ruby will contest from Bathinda (Rural) and practising doctor Inderbir Singh Nijjer from Amritsar (South) assembly segments. 
Former SGPC member Gurvinder Singh Shampura will contest from Fatehgarh Churian.
The Dakha constituency, from where Phoolka will contest, is currently represented by SAD leader Manpreet Singh Ayali. Sahnewal, where Bains will be contesting on AAP ticket, is currently represented by Cabinet Minister Sharanjit Singh Dhillon.
AAP has chosen party's legal wing head Himmat Singh Shergill for the Mohali seat, currently represented by Congress's Balbir Sigh Sidhu.
Meanwhile, party's Punjab convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur in a tweet said a TV report about his resignation was "fake". The party wants to replicate the Delhi story in Punjab. When it contested its maiden election in the national capital in 2013, AAP had declared candidates way before the polling schedule was announced. According to a party leader, this gives the party an edge over others in terms of campaigning. 
Meanwhile, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister and SAD leader Sukhbir Singh Badal said the early announcement of AAP's candidates list would lead to factionalism and revolt in the party.
Talking to reporters in Malout, Badal said the advance declaration of candidates list by AAP would not affect the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and BJP, but it would surely bring to fore the internal factionalism of AAP.
He said the AAP leaders are openly alleging bias and dictatorial methods in the distribution of tickets which makes it clear that only those who pander to the every whim and fancy of Kejriwal matter in AAP.

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