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Gurdaspur bypoll: Congress sees Sunil Jakhar as best bet; Sonia Gandhi to take final call

Capt Amarinder, state Congress chief, Asha meet to discuss feedback from workers, leaders; Candidate selection left to party high command.

punjab Updated: Sep 18, 2017 09:37 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Gurdaspur bypoll,Congress,Sunil Jakhar
Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh with state party chief Sunil Jakhar and general secretary in-charge of Punjab affairs Asha Kumari in New Delhi on Sunday. (HT PHOTO)

Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday met Congress general secretary in-charge of Punjab affairs Asha Kumari and state party chief Sunil Jakhar in New Delhi to discuss the candidate and for the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha byelection on October 11.

According to feedback collected from party leaders and workers, Jakhar has emerged as the best bet for the party. With the party needing a victory to consolidate its emphatic win in state polls six months ago, Amarinder too has been keen that Jakhar contest the election. “At this juncture, when the party has failed to fulfil its poll promises from debt waiver to farmers to its wavering stand on the Badal family business interests, the Congress needs to win the seat more than Jakhar,” party sources said.

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But for Jakhar, the dilemma is that Gurdaspur is not his home district — he hails from Abohar in Malwa — and another general election is less than two years away and he may have to either defend the seat again or move back to Abohar.

Sources close to him said Jakhar will not shy away from the contest and will lead the party from the front. The final decision on the candidate has been left to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

Sources close to him said Jakhar will not shy away from the contest and will lead the party from the front.

The meeting discussed the fact that all seven MLAs of the Congress in Gurdaspur segment will rally behind Jakhar, which will not be possible if the kin of any local leader is fielded. Rajya Sabha MP Partap Bajwa has been lobbying for ticket to his wife, Charanjit Kaur Bajwa, but is facing stiff resistance from a majority of MLAs in the segment.

Earlier, the party had also contemplated fielding Dera Baba Nanak MLA Sukhjinder Randhawa, a known Bajwa-baiter. Though there is no love lost between Jakhar and Bajwa too, the former carries the weight of being the state party chief who enjoys the confidence of the CM and Rahul.

An Congress spokesperson said the three leaders were unanimous in their opinion that only popular candidates with a clean track record should be fielded and the various development works initiated by the Congress government in the state, since taking over in March this year, would constitute the main campaign plank for the party.

First Published: Sep 18, 2017 09:37 IST