After springing a surprise by announcing Bhagwan Das Juneja, a non-political entity, as the party candidate for the Patiala by-poll, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Badal has drawn a strategy to check the royal family in their backyard. Former member of Parliament Preneet Kaur, wife of Capt Amarinder Singh, is contesting the Patiala bypoll.
As many as 28 elected leaders, including ministers, MLAs and MPs, will be permanently stationed at Patiala till the byelection. They will be deputed at each of the 28 MC wards.
SAD leaders from urban areas from all over the state and New Delhi will camp here, while rural leaders will camp at Talwandi Sabo.
The deputy chief minister, in the presence of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, held a meeting with around 300 party leaders in Chandigarh and assigned them various duties.
However, former mayor Vishnu Sharma, who had joined the SAD after leaving the Congress and was a ticket contender, remained conspicuous by his absence.
“My prestige is at stake as Juneja is my personal choice. It’s a golden opportunity for the SAD to wrest back the seat. Do everything possible for the victory of the party,” Sukhbir told the leaders, including MP Prem Singh Chandumajra, minister Surjit Singh Rakhra, former minister Surjit Singh Kohli and other local leaders.
According to the strategy, after allotting an MC ward to a senior leader, the SAD will depute five leaders from outside and five leaders from Patiala with him. The SAD has decided to depute a leader for over 500 voters, which will be assisted by local leaders for door-to-door campaigning and winning over the Congressmen to join the Akali Dal, a trademark of the SAD strategy to win elections.
Sukhbir said senior BJP leaders from the state would be pitched in to woo Hindu voters, while the Delhi gurdwara committee leaders would work to win over the urban Sikh voters.
The deputy chief minister and the chief minister will hold around 50 small and big meetings in Patiala, a stronghold of the Congress and Capt Amarinder Singh-led Patiala royal family.
The deputy chief minister asked the MC to undertake the cleanliness drive and clear all sewerage besides completing the development works.
As mayor Amarinder Bajaj said that the MC coffers were empty, Sukhbir told him not to worry as the budget had been passed and the funds would soon flow. The party has decided that Juneja will file the nominations papers on July 31 and senior party leaders will join him for this.
While the deputy CM has finalised the strategy for the Patiala, he will chalk out plans for Talwandi Sabo on Tuesday. Senior party leaders, who were not deputed at Patiala had been called for the Tuesday meeting.
Sukhbir said that apart from the neighbouring districts Muktsar, Mansa, Ferozepur, Fazilka, Sangrur, Moga, leaders from Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur would also camp at Talwandi Sabo.