In surprising its coalition partner Shiromani Akali (SAD), the Patiala unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) passed a resolution, presenting their stake to contest from urban constituency here in the by-election to be held in September.
The by-election follows the resignation of Patiala MLA Amarinder Singh after he was elected as a member of parliament (MP) from Amritsar. Since forming coalition with SAD in 2002, the BJP leaders have not contested from here
A closed-door meeting was held by the members of the local unit on Thursday to decide strategies for the by-election and strengthen the unit's organisational structure.
After the BJP's strong mandate in the parliamentary elections, the local leaders have become more assertive. This can be gauged from the fact that BJP leaders, who used remain mute spectators, have begun questioning their coalition partners over issues of development.
Saying that they already informed their senior leadership about the decision, BJP urban unit president Anil Bajaj added, "All the senior leaders of Patiala decided in favour of contesting the Patiala urban seat as SAD has failed to win the seat after 1996".
SAD's Surjit Singh Kohli won from the seat then.
"Besides being a Hindu and traders-oriented constituency, the strong mandate of BJP at national level may bloom the chances of winning the Patiala seat if the party is given an opportunity to contest this time," he said.
In the parliamentary elections held recently, the BJP-SAD coalition's candidate Deepinder Singh Dhillon was defeated over issues of poor development.
Dhillon amassed only 16, 342 votes as against Congress candidate Preneet Kaur's 43,238 votes. The
Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) Dharamvira Gandhi won 35, 674 votes.
But, going by expert opinion, the BJP's chances of winning the seat are not that bright as they failed to get even their cadre vote in the Lok Sabha polls in 2014.
In spite of representing posts of senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor, BJP did not win even in one of the wards in the 2014 polls.
"Introspecting from their poor show in last elections, we are now going to strengthen their cadre booth-wise and prepare them for the upcoming by-polls besides handing over a list of pending development work to mayor Amarinder Bajaj so that these are completed before the elections," said Anil Bajaj.
BJP state president Kamal Sharma was not available for comment despite repeated attempts to get in touch with him.