Going gets tough for Congress’ two-time MP Gurjeet Singh Aujla in Amritsar : The Tribune India

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Going gets tough for Congress’ two-time MP Gurjeet Singh Aujla in Amritsar

Going gets tough for Congress’ two-time MP Gurjeet Singh Aujla in Amritsar

Gurjeet Singh Aujla campaigns in Amritsar. Tribune photo



Tribune News Service

GS Paul

Amritsar, April 23

A tough multi-cornered contest is on the cards on the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat.

Traditionally, Amritsar has been a Congress bastion. Since 1952, 20 Lok Sabha polls and bypolls have been conducted. Of these, the Congress has won 13 times.

A Congress bastion

  • Since 1952, 20 Lok Sabha polls and bypolls have been conducted. Of these, the Congress has won 13 times.
  • The Congress has chosen to repeat its sitting MP Gurjeet Singh Aujla, who remained undefeated in the 2017 bypoll and 2019 poll

The Soni factor

This time, sitting MP Gurjeet Singh Aujla is facing infighting in the party. Aujla’s candidature was opposed by supporters of former Congress Deputy CM OP Soni in the presence of state Congress in-charge Devendra Yadav. Soni was keen to contest the elections, too.

Joshi’s grip on segment

SAD’s Anil Joshi, former Local Bodies Minister, known as “Vikas Purush” owing to his development works during the SAD-BJP regime, is still a popular figure in the Amritsar North constituency, which he represented twice as an MLA. Another advantage in his favour is that he has the support of Hindus, especially in the urban belt, whereas the SAD’s rural vote bank will be a bonus for him.

Sandhu’s roots in city

Former diplomat Taranjit Singh Sandhu’s Panthic background, being the grandson of Teja Singh Samundri, and his roots in the region may pay for him. His father Bishan Singh Samundri was the founding Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, and his mother Jagjit Kaur Sandhu completed her doctorate in the US and returned to serve as the principal of Government College for Women, Amritsar.

The Congress has chosen to repeat its sitting MP Gurjeet Singh Aujla, who remained undefeated in the 2017 bypoll and the 2019 poll by around 2 lakh and 1 lakh votes.

This time, he is facing infighting in the party. Aujla’s candidature was opposed by supporters of former Congress Deputy CM OP Soni in the presence of state Congress in-charge Devendra Yadav. Soni too was keen to contest the elections.

Political analysts also believe that the Congress lacks the strong leadership at the state level that could intervene to break the ice between Aujla and Soni. Aujla’s stint as MP has remained non-controversial, yet he lacked any ‘constituency ownership’ unlike SAD candidate Anil Joshi.

SAD’s Anil Joshi, former Local Bodies Minister, known as “Vikas Purush” owing to his development works during the SAD-BJP regime, is still a popular figure in the Amritsar North constituency, which he represented twice as MLA. He is set to give a tough fight.

Similarly, Joshi’s refusal to toe the BJP line on the farm issues, for which he faced expulsion, may pay dividend for him. Another advantage in his favour is that he has the Hindu cadre support, especially in the urban belt whereas the SAD’s rural vote bank will be a bonus for him.

However, the SAD-BJP pact, which had helped him grab votes previously, is no more, giving advantage to the rivals, too. During the SAD-BJP seat-sharing formula, the Amritsar seat fell in the BJP’s kitty. Yet barring cricketer-turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, who had occupied the seat from 2004 to 2014, the saffron party could not win despite fielding stalwarts like former Union minister Arun Jaitley (2014) and former bureaucrat Hardeep Singh Puri (2019).

The BJP has fielded another former diplomat Taranjit Singh Sandhu. He has maintained a good pace in reaching out to residents of all sections with his ‘development’ agenda of putting Amritsar on the global map, citing his vast vision and international approach.

His Panthic background, being the grandson of Teja Singh Samundri, and his roots with the region may pay for him. His father Bishan Singh Samundri was the founding Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, and his mother Jagjit Kaur Sandhu completed her doctorate in the US and returned to serve as the principal of the Government College for Women, Amritsar.

AAP’s minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal may pose a challenge to his opponents, yet, sources said, the anti-incumbency factor could play a spoilsport. He had earlier lost the Lok Sabha election in 2019 with just 20,000 votes.

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The Tribune News Service brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune News Service for a wide-ranging coverage of events as they unfold, with perspective and clarity.

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