Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Lack of confidence, strategy shift delay BJP ticket announcements in Punjab
Even as the Congress has finalised its candidates from the three segments the BJP is contesting in alliance with the Akali Dal in Punjab, the lack of confidence in local faces and a continuous change in strategy has delayed the saffron party’s announcement of its nominees.
Initially, there were reports about the party announcing its candidate for the Hoshiarpur (reserved) segment where it has to pick from sitting MP and Union minister of state Vijay Sampla and Phagwara MLA Som Parkash. Those familiar with the goings-on claim that the party has already made up its mind on the seat and its central election committee (CEC) in its meeting on March 22 discussed replacing Sampla but fell short of taking the final call.
After remaining quiet for a few days after the CEC meeting, the Sampla group is now confident about his getting the ticket. His supporters are posting messages on social media about his candidature from the seat and the Union minister learnt to have started holding meetings again.
In Amritsar as well, the party changed its strategy suddenly after the Congress announced sitting MP Gurjeet Aujla as its nominee.
Even as Aujla won the bypoll necessitated by the resignation of Amarinder Singh from the seat in 2017, by a margin of 1.90 lakh votes, the BJP feels the infighting in the party over ticket brought it back in the game in the segment and its strong candidate can have a last laugh.
“As the names of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and local bodies minister Navjot Sidhu and his wife Navjot Kaur were doing the rounds, Aujla’s candidature has come as a relief for us. If the Congress had fielded Dr Singh or either of the Sidhu couple, things would have been tough for us,” said a BJP leader from Amritsar.
Assuming that the Congress would launch a heavyweight from the seat, the BJP till now was said to be trying to convince celebrities like film star Sunny Deol to enter the fray. Now, Union urban development minister Hardeep Puri is being seen as frontrunner for the ticket.
In Gurdaspur, even as a section of the party is projecting Bollywood star and former MP late Vinod Khanna’s wife Kavita Khanna as the frontrunner keeping in mind Vinod’s popularity in the segment, the high command is not fully convinced about her candidature.
State BJP chief Shwait Malik said, “As far as Amritsar is concerned, the Congress picked a weak candidate as there infighting in the party. The party will make the ticket announcements shortly. We have ample time as Punjab will go to the polls in the last phase.”