Dissent threatens to hurt BJP in Punjab
Chandigarh, April 7
The saffron party is grappling with dissidence in Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur. In Amritsar, its candidate Arun Jaitley is facing not just a formidable opponent in the former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh but is finding hard to explain the absence of party’s sitting MP Navjot Singh Sidhu from canvassing.
Sarwan Salaria, a prominent businessman who has nurtured the Gurdaspur constituency for two years, has reportedly decided to contest as an Independent.
Supported by yoga guru Swami Ramdev, Salaria hoped for the BJP ticket. But the party chose to field film star Vinod Khanna, who has represented Gurdaspur thrice — 1997, 1999 and 2004.
If Salaria revolts and enters the fray as an Independent, it could mean trouble for Khanna as it may benefit Khanna’s rival PPCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa. In Hoshiarpur, though BJP candidate Vijay Sampla enjoys the support of Akali MLAs, a group of BJP leaders led by a former MLA is reportedly working against him.
In Amritsar, BJP’s third candidate in Punjab Arun Jaitley is depending on the might of the Akali-BJP government to help him sail through. Besides grappling with the absence of BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu from campaign, Jaitley is also feeling the heat of lack of development in Amritsar, the reason for Sidhu to be cut up with the Akalis.
His saving grace seems to be a show of unity in the BJP rank and file of Amritsar and more importantly the handling of his campaign by two top ministers — Bikram Singh Majithia and Anil Joshi.
Trouble for all three party candidates
Three-time SAD MLA files papers as Independent
Faridkot, April 7
Today — a day when all former and sitting Congress and Akali MLAs from the nine Assembly segments of the Faridkot parliamentary constituency accompanied their party Lok Sabha candidate at the time of filing of nomination papers -- another SAD member, Ajit Singh Shant, former MLA from Nihal Singh Wala Assembly segment of Faridkot, didn’t turn up in support of the SAD candidate.
Sheetal Singh was elected SAD MLA three times in 1997, 2002, 2007 from the Dharamkot Assembly seat which is part of the Faridkot parliamentary constituency.
After the delimitation of various Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies, the reserved Assembly constituency of Dharamkot was converted into a general category seat. So, SAD replaced Sheetal Singh with Tota Singh for the 2012 Assembly elections.
Ever since, Sheetal Singh has been unhappy with the Akali Dal. “After 30 years of service as a sincere worker, the Akali Dal did not even bother to give me due honour,” he said. "While many inconsequential leaders were honoured with chairmanship, I, a three-time MLA, was not given any position," Sheetal said.
Sources in the party said that not only Sheetal Singh but also his father-in-law, veteran Akali leader and former Agriculture Minister, Gurdev Singh Badal and his son Suba Singh were feeling demoralised after Gurdev Singh lost the 2012 Assembly election on the reserved seat of Jaitu in Faridkot.
Meanwhile, Ajit Singh Shant, who didn’t join Paramjit Kaur Gulshan during the filing of nomination papers today, is reportedly annoyed with the party leadership for denying him the Lok Sabha ticket from Faridkot.