With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fielding Khadi board chairman and party vice-president Harjit Singh Grewal from Rajpura, the local BJP supporters have opposed the ticket by terming him ‘an outsider’.
Grewal was allotted the ticket as the BJP’s known face and three-time MLA Raj Khurana died on December 26.
The family and supporters of late Khurana was anticipating ticket for his son Tarun Khurana, but the party allocated ticket to Grewal, who is close to party president and union minister Vijay Sampla, apart from being an RSS member.
Grewal was eyeing ticket from Barnala, by advocating that the party should change the Rajpura seat with Barnala, under the seat-sharing arrangement with Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), but could not succeed as the party decided to stick to the previous seat-sharing formula.
“We are not going to support him. Grewal is an outsider, working in the Malwa belt, eyeing ticket from Barnala. He has no link with Rajpura. We will oppose him till the party changes the candidate,” said Jagga, local councillor, who held a road show to protest against the party’s decision to field an outsider.
The supporters of Khurana also lashed out on the BJP leadership.
“There is a strong sympathy wave in favour of Tarun after the demise of his father. The Bahawalpur community has a strong vote bank, and it will not support Grewal,” said Yogesh Kumar, representing the Khurana group that held a separate meeting to lodge protest.
Meanwhile, Grewal said that he will work hard and bring all factions together as he has worked closely with Raj Khurana and all other local leaders, as the party’s vice-president.
Aam Aadmi Party contestant Ashutosh Joshi is also facing strong protest as the party volunteers claim that the ticket is allotted to a novice.
At Rajpura seat, Congress has fielded its strong candidate and sitting member of legislative assembly (MLA) Hardial Kamboj, who is also the president of district Congress committee.
In the last elections, he had won with a margin of nearly 30,000 votes against the BJP candidate. With the ongoing dissidence, it will be tough for Grewal to bridge the margin of 2012, and roping in support of the party workers.