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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll: ‘Sulking’ Bajwa to join campaign on Oct 1, BJP targets his absence

Bajwa, who is in Delhi to meet top leadership of the party, will join the campaign on October 1

punjab Updated: Sep 29, 2017 09:27 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Partap Singh Bajwa is in Delhi to meet party leadership.
Partap Singh Bajwa is in Delhi to meet party leadership.(HT File)

The Congress was never united in Gurdaspur. The rivalry among its political dynasties runs deep, from fathers to sons.

The Lok Sabha bypoll has once again redrawn the battle lines between Rajya Sabha MP Partap Bajwa, former Gurdaspur MP, and state rural development minister Tript Rajinder Bajwa and Dera Baba Nanak MLA Sukhjinder Randhawa, a contender for a ministerial berth. The fathers of all three too were regional satraps of the Congress and the turf war is part of the legacy.

But as the six-month-old Captain Amarinder Singh government faces a daunting bypoll test, the absence of Partap Bajwa from the campaign scene may give the Congress candidate Sunil Jakhar’s camp some anxious moments.

Dovetailing compulsion with strategy, Jakhar’s campaign managers are projecting Bajwa’s younger brother, Fateh Jang, literally in the driver’s seat. Fateh drove Jakhar to file nomination papers and was one of the faces in the photo op along with Jakhar and the CM. Fateh is also campaigning for Jakhar in Qadian, the seat he now represents after Bajwa’s wife, Charanjit, made way for him in the February polls.

But as the campaign scene hots up at Gurdaspur, Bajwa is in New Delhi to meet top leadership of the party. The Rajya Sabha MP says he will join the campaign on October 1.

The BJP, which has been attacking Jakhar as an “outsider”, is also trying to cash in on the “lack of unity” in the Congress. State BJP chief Vijay Sampla on Thursday said Kavita (Vinod Khanna’s wife) was by the side of party’s candidate, Swaran Singh Salaria, when he filed the nomination papers and also at the rally. “But where is Congress former Gurdaspur MP Partap Bajwa. The Congress is still fighting over the candidate,” he said while talking to reporters in Pathankot. Kavita too had staked her claim for ticket to the Lok Sabha seat after her husband’s death in April.

Bajwa has claimed that he got tickets for six out of nine assembly candidates in Gurdaspur Lok Sabha (barring Sukhjinder, Tript and minister Aruna Chaudhary who represents Dinanagar seat), of whom five won. But with his once bête noire Amarinder as the CM, none of the sitting MLAs except his brother, Fateh, have openly supported the candidature of his wife.

While the Jakhar camp sees no alarm bells in Bajwa’s absence from the poll scene as all the seven Congress MLAs, including Fateh, are campaigning for the party nominee, Bajwa loyalists contend he cannot be overlooked on his home turf, as he has earlier secured wins for himself, wife, brother and some other MLAs and the 2014 Lok Sabha defeat was an exception to his winning spree.

Both the defeated candidates too, Bajwa claims, had pledged their support to Charanjit for the Lok Sabha contest of 2019. But former Batala MLA Ashwani Sekhri has joined the party campaign so has Amit Singh, who lost from Sujanpur after he had openly supported Charanjit’s candidature before Jakhar’s name was announced by the party.

First Published: Sep 29, 2017 09:27 IST

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