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As Jakhar files papers, Partap Bajwa remains defiant: ‘CM betrayed me’

Commenting on his differences with Amarinder, who had backed Jakhar, Bajwa said that he had stepped down as state Congress chief after Amarinder “conspired” against him “then too”.

punjab Updated: Sep 22, 2017 21:39 IST
Nikhil Sharma and Kamaljit Singh Kamal
Nikhil Sharma and Kamaljit Singh Kamal
Hindustan Times, Gurdaspur
Sunil Jakhar,Amarinder Singh,Gurdaspur election
Congress’ Sunil Jakhar filing nomination papers for the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll, accompanied by Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, and state party affairs in-charge Asha Kumari .(Sameer Sehgal/HT)

Filing their papers on the concluding day of nominations, two main contenders in the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll, Congress’ Sunil Jakhar and Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) candidate Swaran Singh Salaria, kicked off their election campaign on Friday.

However, claims of the Congress regime denying rift within the party fell flat as Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa, a former Lok Sabha MP from the seat, didn’t turn up when Jakhar filed his nomination. Chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh was with Jakhar, and so was Partap Bajwa’s younger brother, Qadian MLA Fateh Jang Bajwa, besides state party affairs in-charge Asha Kumari and local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu.

Bajwa, who had sought the ticket for his wife Charanjit Kaur Bajwa after Fateh became MLA from a seat she had held earlier, expressed dismay over the party’s decision to field an “outsider” — Jakhar is from Abohar in Fazilka district, around 300km away — for the October 11 bypoll necessitated by the death of BJP’s Vinod Khanna.

“Captain Amarinder had promised my wife the ticket for Gurdaspur byelection in front of Asha Kumari, the party’s Punjab affairs in-charge; but he betrayed us,” Bajwa told HT over phone. He said his wife had left the Qadian seat — which falls in this LS segment — to accommodate Fateh Jang only after Captain promised her the ticket for Gurdaspur in the next LS polls.

“Our family has influence in each of the nine assembly constituencies in Gurdaspur parliamentary seat. An outsider should not have been fielded here,” said Bajwa, who lost in 2014 to Khanna.

He also underlined that the party has fielded a Hindu in Jakhar whereas five of the nine MLAs here are Sikhs.

Commenting on his differences with Amarinder, who had backed Jakhar, Bajwa said that he had stepped down as state Congress chief after Amarinder “conspired” against him “then too”.

Meanwhile, not talking about Bajwa, Amarinder said on the occasion, “Salaria is neither a man of words nor has a fixed stand. He approached me for the Congress ticket a month back. After I refused, he joined hands with the BJP. He was earlier refused the Congress ticket in 2009. He is not bothered about any party; he wants to contest elections relying on his money.”

Talking to the media, Jakhar said, “I never wished to contest these elections necessitated by the death of Vinod Khanna, as I was his huge fan. It could have been saddening for me to contest against his wife Kavita Khanna, but Salaria is no threat.” He reiterated that the Congress pitch will be based on “blunders” of the central government and the development works of the state government. “GST, fuel price hike and demonetisation were nothing less than a nightmare for the Indians.”

First Published: Sep 22, 2017 20:56 IST