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Posted at: Sep 14, 2017, 1:53 AM; last updated: Sep 14, 2017, 1:53 AM (IST)GURDASPUR LOK SABHA BYPOLL

Race for ticket picks up pace

Cong seeks consensus, may spring surprise

Rajmeet Singh

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 13

With consensus eluding the state Congress on the choice of candidate for the Gurdaspur parliamentary byelection, the party may opt for a dark horse.

As Qadian MLA Fateh Jang Bajwa, brother of Rajya Sabha member Partap Singh Bajwa, has insisted that a local candidate should be fielded, the party may choose a person who is acceptable to all factions and has Gurdaspur roots.

One name that can surprise all is that of Major Amardeep Singh (retd), political secretary to the CM. A few days ago, Sri Hargobindpur MLA Balwinder Laddi, a close aide of the Bajwas, had proposed Major Amardeep’s name at a meeting of Gurdaspur MLAs with CM Capt Amarinder Singh. Fateh Jang was also present at the meeting.

It being a mid-term poll — with only one-and-a-half year for the term to go — the top guns may not mind a low-profile candidate who is acceptable to the Capt Amarinder Singh and Partap Bajwa camps, a senior leader said.

Fateh Jang has not proposed a name, but it is being speculated that by “local candidate” he may have meant his sister-in-law, Charanjit Kaur Bajwa. She is a former Qadian MLA.

The same description equally fits Major Amardeep. Fateh Jang could not be contacted in spite of repeated attempts.

To make sense of the divergent voices within the party, Punjab affairs co-incharge Harish Chaudhary today held a closed-door meeting with at least six party MLAs from Gurdaspur. Five of the MLAs – Amit Vij, Aruna Chaudhary, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Sukhjinder Randhawa and Barinderjit Singh Pahra — are reportedly pushing for state Congress chief Sunil Jakhar’s candidature.

Fateh Jang, however, insisted that his brother Partap Bajwa should be taken into confidence first, indicating his reservations about Jakhar. The Bajwa brothers hold a greater sway in the Gurdaspur parliamentary constituency.

Harish Chaudhary could not be contacted, but sources said he would inform the Delhi leadership about the views of the MLAs. Being the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder is expected to have the final say in deciding the candidate.

He, however, told The Tribune the decision would rest with the high command, which would factor in views of all concerned.

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