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HindustanTimes Fri,01 Aug 2014

BJP’s state unit in the line of fire after Jaitley’s defeat

Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, May 19, 2014
First Published: 10:09 IST(19/5/2014) | Last Updated: 10:11 IST(19/5/2014)

The celebrations for the BJP at the national level are unending but things are gloomy in the Punjab unit of the party, and its leaders just can’t find an escape route to justify the defeat of party’s top leader Arun Jaitley, leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha, who was especially brought to Amritsar by the state unit to contest polls with the assurance it would be a cakewalk for him.


The resignation by Punjab local bodies minister Anil Joshi who is an MLA from Amritsar (North) on “moral grounds” accepting the responsibility for Jaitley’s defeat is being seen as an attempt to defuse the situation.

Amritsar (North) is part of Amritsar parliamentary constituency and Jaitley trailed from this segment by a big margin of 16,726 votes.

It needs a mention here that Joshi sent his resignation to state BJP president Kamal Sharma on the counting day when Jaitley’s defeat for more than sure.

Sharma is yet to accept his resignation. As a source in BJP revealed Jaitley would look back to ponder on reasons for his loss after formation of the BJP government at the Centre.

The fact could not be ignored that Jaitley’s own men scripted his defeat. Joshi and Sharma are considered Jaitley’s protégés and after much insistence by both, Jailtey agreed to contest from Amritsar.

Despite “best efforts”, as claimed by the state unit of BJP, Jaitley failed to emerge victorious against Congress candidate Capt Amarinder Singh.

Other than Kamal Sharma, party general secretary of the state unit, Tarun Chugh and vice-president Rajinder Mohan Singh Chinna (both from Amritsar) were full time in Amritsar during campaigning.

The state unit’s entire focus was on Amritsar but the party’s other two candidates — Vijay Sampla from Hoshiarpur and Vinod Khanna from Gurdaspur — kept waiting for party support.

As party sources say they failed to give a clear picture to Jaitley about poll scenario building up against him.

Interestingly, Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu, BJP MLA from Amritsar (East) may be making much noise and demanding resignation of revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia, but Jaitley lost with a margin of 32,198 votes in her constituency.

On the other hand, outgoing MP Navjot Sidhu’s absence was palpable and it was not liked by the people, which also affected Jaitley’s prospects.

The core committee of the SAD, which met on Saturday, has formed a committee to introspect and find out the reasons for the poor performance of the party but the BJP is still to gather courage to know reasons for the poor performance.

From Ferozepur (City) assembly constituency, over which Kamal Sharma is staking claim and is also taking part in the development works, the BJP lost with a margin over more than 15,000 votes.

BJP’s three-time MLA from Ferozepur, Sukhpal Singh Nannu who lost in the 2012 polls has raised objections to Kamal Sharma’s activities in the constituency.

Also during poll campaign, considering Amritsar (West) assembly constituency weak, Kamal Sharma was made in-charge of the campaign where Jaitley trailed by 36,957 votes.

It needs a mention here that former state BJP president Rajinder Bhandari who was in-charge of Amritsar parliamentary constituency in the poll, lost his own constituency, Ludhiana (West), with a big margin.

Similarly, BJP legislature party leader and forests and wildlife minister Bhagat Chunni Lal lost his constituency Jalandhar (West) with a margin of more than 21,000 votes.

Heads may or may not roll over the defeat of the party’s top leader but the state unit is under criticism from within the party. The state unit would remember the polls for a long time, for all the wrong reasons.

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