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Monday, Oct 14, 2019

Gurdaspur LS bypoll: Captain Amarinder pitches for Jakhar, but Bajwa digs in his heels

Gurdaspur bypoll: Announcement of candidate after Rahul's nod; Bajwa says nothing final, ‘all stakeholders should be taken into confidence to win difficult seat’

punjab Updated: Sep 19, 2017 10:50 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Partap Singh Bajwa (left) lost the 2014 Lok Sabha contest from Gurdaspur, while Sunil Jakhar lost from Ferozepur.
Partap Singh Bajwa (left) lost the 2014 Lok Sabha contest from Gurdaspur, while Sunil Jakhar lost from Ferozepur. (HT Photo)
         

Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh met Congress president Sonia Gandhi at her New Delhi residence on Monday to discuss names of probable candidates for the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll slated for October 11. According to party sources, the CM recommended the name of state party unit chief Sunil Jakhar as the most suitable candidate after feedback from party leaders and workers and his own inputs.

The feedback, collected by party’s state affairs in-charge Asha Kumari, was shared with Jakhar and Captain at a meeting on Sunday. The bypoll was necessitated after the death of the BJP MP, actor Vinod Khanna, in April this year.

Former Abohar MLA Jakhar, when contacted, said he could not comment on the candidate as the final decision will be taken by party vice-president Rahul Gandhi who is in the US. “I will work hard to ensure victory of whoever the party high command decides to field,” he said.

Former Abohar MLA Jakhar, when contacted, said he could not comment on the candidate as the final decision will be taken by party vice-president Rahul Gandhi who is in the US

But Rajya Sabha MP and former state unit chief Partap Singh Bajwa has dug in his heels. Speaking to HT, Bajwa — who represented Gurdaspur in the Lok Sabha after winning it in 2009 against Khannal; but lost in 2014 — said no final decision has been taken.

“The high command will have to take all stakeholders into confidence if they want to win a difficult seat like Gurdaspur,” he said.

Bajwa has been lobbying for ticket to his wife, Charanjit Kaur Bajwa, a former MLA who gave up her claim on the Qadian seat in the assembly polls this year to make way for Bajwa’s younger brother, Fateh Jang Bajwa. Fateh won and was the first to seek a “local candidate” for the parliamentary seat.

While the party largely sees Jakhar as the best bet at a time the party’s popularity graph has been hit by unfulfilled poll promises and some dissonance in its rank and file over governance issues, the Bajwa family does not want to give up its claim on the seat when the next general elections are in 2019, and the seat will then be up for grabs for a full term again.

Also read | AAP declares its candidate for Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll

Same difference

While in 2014 Bajwa as state chief failed to win Gurdaspur, now it is Jakhar as state president being pitched by Amarinder and the majority of the seven Congress MLAs of Gurdaspur. Bajwa was reluctant in 2014 and so is Jakhar now, as he does not want to be seen as deserting his home turf for a shot at a seat which will see an election again in less than two years. Jakhar lost from Abohar this time after three consecutive wins. Also, Jakhar too had contested in 2014 upon the high command’s insistence, from Ferozepur LS seat, and lost.

Bajwa, after the 2014 loss, had to also lose his state presidency to Amarinder, and Jakhar was simultaneously ousted as leader of the party’s legislature group in November 2015. Bajwa won a nomination to the Rajya Sabha last year. Jakhar was resurrected as state party chief this year after Amarinder became CM.

First Published: Sep 19, 2017 10:50 IST

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