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Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll: Congress bets on Sunil Jakhar

Sunil Jakhar’s name was first pitched by party MLAs from Gurdaspur opposed to Rajya Sabha MP and former state president, Partap Bajwa.

punjab Updated: Sep 21, 2017 11:16 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Jakhar’s stature as the state Congress chief also worked to his favour as he enjoys equity among party workers,  leaders and the government.
Jakhar’s stature as the state Congress chief also worked to his favour as he enjoys equity among party workers, leaders and the government. (HT File )

Amid a bitter tussle over ticket for the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday announced Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar as the party’s nominee for the October 11 bypoll.

In a game of checkmate played by rival Congress camps in Gurdaspur, Jakhar’s name was first pitched by party MLAs from Gurdaspur opposed to Rajya Sabha MP and former state president, Partap Bajwa, who has fought the last two elections from the seat.

The proposal found the backing of Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh who met Sonia on Monday and named Jakhar as the party’s best bet to win the seat. Sonia went with the CM’s advice and majority view within party. Six of the seven party MLAs from the segment had openly favoured Jakhar’s candidature barring Bajwa’s younger brother, Fateh Jang, too had later agreed to go by the party’s choice after striking a discordant note over fielding an “outsider”.

Jakhar’s stature as the state Congress chief also worked to his favour as he enjoys equity among party workers, leaders and the government.

The three-time Abohar MLA, who had a string of poll reverses -- he lost the state election and 2014 parliamentary election from Ferozepur -- had on Tuesday met Sonia to express his acceptance of the party’s nomination, if fielded. The party decided to go with a Hindu face to avoid polarisation of the community’s votes in favour of the BJP, which is likely to field a Hindu candidate. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) too has nominated Maj Gen Suresh Khajuria, a Hindu, as its candidate.

Jakhar will file his nomination on September 22, the last day. He said the party high command had reposed faith on him and the Gurdaspur bypoll will be first step towards Congress victory in 2019 parliamentary elections.