Hardeep Puri is BJP pick for Amritsar Lok Sabha seat
The party, however, is yet to decide on the names of candidates for Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur reserved segments even as the process to file nomination papers for the 13 parliamentary seats in the state begins on Monday.Updated: Apr 22, 2019 08:07 IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday fielded Union minister Hardeep Puri from Amritsar Lok Sabha seat.
The party, however, is yet to decide on the names of candidates for Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur reserved segments even as the process to file nomination papers for the 13 parliamentary seats in the state begins on Monday.
A former Indian diplomat and 1974-batch Indian Foreign Services (IFS) officer, Puri, 66, is the only turbaned Sikh minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre. An urban Sikh having roots in Delhi, Puri has been handpicked for a seat that is dominated by Sikh voters. Puri was preferred as the party did not have much choice when it came to choosing a formidable local Sikh face for the seat, it is learnt.
Earlier there were speculations that the party is planning to field actor Sunny Deol from this seat. The idea to field Puri from Amritsar was the brainchild of Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, who had unsuccessfully contested against Capt Amarinder Singh in 2014 from this seat.
Puri, who is quite popular among Sikh diaspora too, has a long list of achievements in his career spanning four decades The Rajya Sabha member from Uttar Pradesh has authored several books too.
Though the BJP, expert opine, has taken a ‘big risk’ to field an urban Sikh from a constituency dominated by Jat Sikhs, party insiders say the decision was taken after conducting a special survey in the segment on Puri’s prospects.
Notably, Puri had been making regular visits to Amritsar ever since he was made Union minister. The housing and urban development minister was also made part of the delegation that attended the ground-breaking ceremony of Kartarpur Corridor held in Pakistan last year.
Puri had remained an active student leader in the 70s during the JP movement. For Hoshiarpur, BJP insiders say, the name of Phagrwara MLA Som Parkash was almost final but it was withheld at the last minute. The party is now also considering the name of singer Hans Raj Hans from here, said a top leader.
Sunny Deol may be fielded from Gurdaspur but the uncertainty over his joining the party is set to delay the announcement for a couple of days.