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Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll: Congress confident of winning; BJP, AAP step up campaign

Chandigarh: The Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll, necessitated following the death of actor and BJP MP Vinod Khanna, will witness a triangular contest among BJP, Congress and AAP.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

While the ruling Congress, buoyed by its victory in the assembly elections earlier this year, is confident of continuing its winning streak, the BJP would pull out all stops to retain the seat.

"We will surely retain our Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat," Punjab BJP secretary Vineet Joshi said on Thursday.

The main opposition party, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), is also looking to increase its tally, having secured just 20 seats in the assembly polls.

The bypoll has been scheduled for 11 October and results will be declared on 15 October.

While all the three political parties have stepped up electioneering, the race for tickets has also picked up the pace.

In the ruling Congress, the name of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sunil Jakhar has been doing the rounds with several MLAs backing him.

However, Qadian MLA Fateh Jang Bajwa, brother of MP Partap Singh Bajwa, has reportedly pitched for a local face.

"Sunil Jakhar is a good choice for the ticket," said Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, an MLA from Fatehgarh Churian.

Jakhar, however, said the party high command would take a call on it.

A recommendation will be made to the high command only after Chief Minister Amarinder Singh returns from London, party sources said.

In the BJP, two names — Kavita Khanna, wife of Vinod Khanna, and businessman Swaran Salaria — have come to the fore.

"The name of the candidate will be announced soon," said Joshi.

The AAP, too, held a meeting of its MLAs and office-bearers on Thursday to finalise the names of the candidates, which will then be sent to the party's political affairs committee for approval.

"We want a clean, educated and honest candidate for the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat," AAP MLA and leader of opposition Sukhpal Khaira said.

The parliamentary seat has nine assembly segments. The BJP managed to secure just one assembly seat in Sujanpur, out of the four it had contested earlier this year.

The Congress, however, bagged seven seats — Bhoa, Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Dinanagar, Qadian and Fathegarh Churian. Batala seat went to Shiromani Akali Dal.

Both the BJP and the AAP are likely to attack the ruling Congress over its failure to implement farm loan waiver.

The Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat has been a stronghold of the BJP so far. Actor-turned-politician Vinod Khanna, who passed away in April this year, won the seat four times.

After joining the BJP in 1997, Khanna was fielded from the Gurdaspur parliamentary seat in 1998. He defeated Congress candidate and five-time MP Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder and repeated his performance in the 1999 and 2004 Lok Sabha polls.

The actor-turned-politician got his first taste of defeat in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections when he was trounced by Congress candidate Partap Singh Bajwa. In 2014, however, Khanna avenged his defeat by thrashing Bajwa with over 1.30 lakh votes.

Updated Date: Sep 14, 2017 20:44 PM

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