The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday night picked senior party leader Arun Jaitley (61) as its candidate from Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, replacing sitting MP Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Hours before the decision, Sidhu had rejected the party high command's offer of contesting from Kurukshetra, Chandigarh or Delhi West, or going to the Rajya Sabha. The cricketer-turned-politician had made it clear that he would not contest the Lok Sabha polls at all if not fielded from the holy city.
Sidhu had been at loggerheads with the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab for the past year or so. He had been accusing the Badals of scuttling his pet projects for Amritsar.
Meanwhile, in a surprise move, the BJP declared Vijay Sampla, a prominent Dalit leader from the Doaba region, as its candidate from Hoshiarpur (reserved) parliamentary seat. The choice shocked many in party circles as Phagwara MLA and chief parliamentary secretary Som Parkash was regarded as the favourite for the ticket.
For the Gurdaspur seat, the BJP is yet to choose between Bollywood star and former MP Vinod Khanna and businessman Swaran Salaria.