First time since 1996, SAD, BJP to take on each other in Amritsar : The Tribune India

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First time since 1996, SAD, BJP to take on each other in Amritsar

Four-cornered contest on cards

First time since 1996, SAD, BJP to take on each other in Amritsar


Tribune News Service

GS Paul

Amritsar, April 2

With the SAD and the BJP failing to stitch an alliance and the saffron party declaring former Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu as its candidate, Amritsar will witness a four-cornered contest in the Lok Sabha elections.

For the first time since 1996, when the two parties had formed an alliance, the SAD and the BJP will field their candidates against each other. The Congress and AAP are the other major parties which will field their candidates.

Having a rich Panthic bond and roots in the region, Sandhu is capable of putting up a tough competition. Prior to making his political debut, he has been active in the field, meeting people from various quarters to gauge their mood and apprising them about his vision to make Amritsar “progressive with ample opportunities through his international connections”.

The names of former minister during the SAD-BJP coalition government Anil Joshi and SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia are doing the rounds as the SAD candidate.

Joshi, who faced expulsion from the BJP for six years for opposing the party line on the farm issue, ultimately switched over to the SAD a year after the alliance breakup in 2020 over the farm laws, which were later repealed.

As is the precedence in the SAD, halqa in-charges will be fielded. By that calculation, SAD’s halqa in-charge Anil Joshi could be its candidate.

Amritsar Lok Sabha comprises nine Assembly segments — five urban (East, West (SC), Central, North and South) and four rural (Ajnala, Rajasansi, Majitha and Rajasansi-SC).

Political analysts believe that Joshi basically has the BJP cadre vote bank and the added advantage to him would be the SAD’s rural dominance.

However, the SAD-BJP alliance, which had grabbed a good vote bank together, would now be divided.

Under the SAD-BJP coalition seat-sharing quota, the Amritsar seat went to the BJP’s kitty. Barring cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu’s term, who had occupied the seat from 2004 to 2014, the saffron party could not win the Amritsar seat despite fielding stalwarts like Arun Jaitley (2014) and Hardeep Singh Puri (2019).

AAP has fielded its minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal. He had lost the Lok Sabha election in 2019 and had come third with just 20,000 votes. However, his easy accessibility and current ministerial position will pose a challenge to the Opposition.

Traditionally, Amritsar was a Congress bastion. Between 1952 and 2019, 20 Lok Sabha polls and bypolls were conducted. Of these, the Congress won 13 times, the Opposition, including the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, Janata Party six times and Independent once.

The current MP, Gurjeet Singh Aujla, won the 2017 bypoll and the 2019 poll with margins of two lakh and one lakh votes, respectively. A Congress leader said, “Until it is necessitated, there is no point in replacing Aujla. He has been a non-controversial MP,” he said.

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