The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has launched an aggressive campaign to fight the upcoming bypoll for the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat with party’s state president Vijay Sampla and Punjab affairs in-charge Prabhat Jha, both camping in the constituency for three days.
Although there is no clarity on the candidate who will fight from Gurdaspur, reports emanating from the party suggest that Kavita Khanna, wife of late Vinod Khanna, who represented the seat till he passed away, is the front-runner. Senior party officials said that instructions had been received from the party high command in New Delhi that regardless of the name of the candidate, which would be decided in due course, ground workers of the party should gear up to ensure that the seat is retained by the BJP.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Vineet Joshi, state secretary of the party, said that Vijay Sampla and Prabhat Jha are camping in the constituency to give effect to the direction by the leadership to get the campaign in top gear. “The two will address conferences of party workers in all the nine assembly segments falling under the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat,” said Joshi.
Joshi added that Sampla and Jha will address separate booth-level workers’ conferences in Sujanpur, Pathankot and Bhoa on September 10. Similarly on Monday, the two attended conferences in Dinanagar, Gurdaspur, Qadian and Dera Baba Nanak Assembly segments. On September 12, both the leaders will interact with party workers in Batala and Fatehgarh Churian.
The main strategy behind these meetings is to put forth the achievements of the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi during the last three years as well as highlighting the “misgovernance and betrayal” by the Capt Amarinder Singh government in the state. The party also wishes to assess its poll preparedness through these conferences with the workers.
In the 2014 polls, Vinod Khanna had defeated Partap Singh Bajwa of the Congress by a margin of nearly 1,36,000 votes. Sucha Singh Chhottepur, who has now been expelled from AAP, was the party candidate at the time and had polled 1,73,376 votes and had come third. While there are substantial number of Hindu voters in the assembly segments on this Lok Sabha constituency yet BJP holds only one seat of Sujanpur from the nine assembly seats.
Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is also slowly getting into the poll mode although at a much slower pace as compared to the BJP. The party has started organising meetings in the various assembly constituencies. According to Kanwalpreet Kaki, the Majha zone in-charge of AAP, applications had been invited from prospective candidates to fight the election. “We have received seven applications till date and most of them are freshers who have never contested polls before. The final call on the name of the candidate will be taken by the party leadership,” said Kaki.
The Leader of Opposition, Sukhpal Khaira, has already gone on record saying that as far as AAP was concerned the major target before it in Punjab was the 2019 general elections. He has said that while the party will fight the local bodies elections as well as the Gurdaspur bypoll, yet the party was aiming to gear-up for the 2019 elections.