Punjab BJP chief Vijay Sampla’s roadshows as part of his Vijay Sankalp Yatra (victory pledge tour) that started on December 30 has resulted in roadblocks so far for the party, barely a month ahead of the February 4 assembly polls. From revealing factionalism to running into trouble with the Election Commission, the yatra has seen brawls too among ticket contenders as the party is yet to announce any of its 23 candidates.
Soon after it began from Hussainiwala in Ferozepur district, it became a show of strength for two ticket contenders, former MLA Sukhpal Singh Nannu and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha national vice-president Gurparvez Shelley, who hurled abuses at each other. A scuffle was, however, averted.
In Abohar segment in Fazilka district, the yatra got lukewarm response and Sampla did not attend a rally and lunch hosted by Brij Lal Rinwa, a former state unit chief whom Sampla often referred to as his “political guru”. Barely 20 BJP workers attended the show in Maujgarh village on the Abohar-Sriganganagar road.
The worst scenes so far were witnessed on Sampla’s home turf in Doaba region. In Phagwara on December 3, groups owing allegiance to Sampla and his intra-party rival, sitting MLA Som Parkash, got into a tussle and hurled abuses at each other during individual shows of strength.
This was not entirely surprising, though. Sampla’s move to take former SAD MLA Mohan Lal into the party added fuel to the theory that he is seeking to replace Som Parkash. In a video, Mohan Lal is seen abusing Som Parkash.
In Jalandhar as well, in the West segment, supporters of key Sampla man Sheetal Angural not only snatched the mike from cabinet minister Chunni Lal Bhagat’s son Mohinder Bhagat but his supporters threw garlands at Bhagat to disturb him during his speech.
“The timing of the yatra is illogical,” said a senior leader of the party on the condition of anonymity. “The brawls, scuffles and abuses have exposed the party’s infighting when we are going for polls.”
On Friday, in Hoshiarpur, cold vibes were visible between former minister Tikshan Sud and national vice-president Avinash Rai Khanna's political secretary Sanjiv Talwar. The Khanna-Sampla group is projecting Talwar as candidate in place of Sud..
Many senior leaders said the yatra seems a “family-and-friends show” by Sampla.
“Sampla’s son Sahil, nephew Ashu, and another relative, Rohan Sampla, control everything around the rath (campaign vehicle). The other leaders with the yatra, such as Vineet Joshi, are quite junior to the MLAs and ministers who are fighting among themselves,” said a sitting MLA from Doaba.
But Sampla insisted on Friday, “All reports regarding infighting are just media creation. Even when we just exchange a mike, the media says it was snatched.”