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Punjab » Politics

Posted at: Dec 22, 2016, 1:29 AM; last updated: Dec 22, 2016, 2:41 AM (IST)

Jaitley wants RSS activist Grewal pitted against Sidhu

BJP’s poll strategy

  • Navjot Singh Sidhu is likely to contest from the Amritsar (East) seat on Congress ticket
  • The seat is held by his wife Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu
  • The BJP’s strategy is to confine Sidhu to Amritsar
  • It does not want him to canvass elsewhere, lest he sways the youth in Congress favour
  • Sidhu was BJP’s star campaigner during his tenure as Amritsar MP
Jaitley wants RSS activist Grewal pitted against Sidhu
Navjot Singh Sidhu

Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21

The BJP has declared a war on Navjot Singh Sidhu, its former MP and star campaigner, with the party high command instructing the state leadership to ensure that he does not make it to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha from the Amritsar (East) constituency from where he is likely to be fielded by the Congress.

 Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had lost the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency in 2014 with Sidhu, then with the BJP, choosing to stay away from campaigning. He now wants Harjit Singh Grewal to be pitted against Sidhu. 

Grewal, a staunch RSS activist, belongs to Dhanaula near Sangrur. He was keen to contest from the Barnala Assembly constituency. However, the SAD is not prepared to yield this constituency to its ally BJP. It is keen on fielding Surinder Pal Singh Sibia, a Congress leader, who is likely to join the SAD soon.

Sidhu represented the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat thrice in a row. He did not contest last time because the BJP opted to field Jaitley instead. He was nominated to the Rajya Sabha, but resigned from the BJP and the Rajya Sabha some months ago. His wife has already joined the Congress. 

Sidhu, who has held a number of meetings with AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi, is expected to join the Congress by month-end. Aware of his star-pull, the BJP’s strategy is to confine Sidhu to Amritsar. It does not want him to move out for canvassing, lest he sways the youth in Congress’ favour.

It is highly unlikely that Sidhu will be projected as Deputy Chief Minister candidate, says a senior Congress leader. “The Congress high command has promised to declare Capt Amarinder Singh, a Jat Sikh, as CM candidate. Sidhu too is a Jat Sikh. Having the CM and Deputy CM from the same community could be suicidal for the party, especially as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has promised the Deputy CM slot to a Dalit. Already, there is a clamour for two posts of Deputy CM — one for a Dalit and another for a Hindu leader — within the Congress.

Rahul is expected to visit Punjab any time now and declare Capt Amarinder as CM candidate. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been requested to release the party manifesto, say sources.

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