Amritsar by-election: BJP fends off talks on fielding Arun Jaitley again

It has also opened a new door for Navjot Singh Sidhu to make a comeback from the same seat he had won thrice on a BJP ticket before being asked by his former party to vacate it for Arun Jaitley.

Written by KAMALDEEP SINGH BRAR | Amritsar | Published:November 12, 2016 4:29 am
SYL canal issue, arun jaitley, Punjab Haryana water dispute, water dispute, Congress MLAs resigns, Punjab Congress MLAs resign, Badal  government, Punjab CM badal, Supreme Court decision, Pranab Mukherjee, indian express news New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. (PTI Photo)

THE RESIGNATION of Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh from the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat over the SYL issue has once again given wings to the desire of many Congress and BJP leaders to reach Parliament via Amritsar. Besides, it has also opened a new door for Navjot Singh Sidhu to make a comeback from the same seat he had won thrice on a BJP ticket before being asked by his former party to vacate it for Arun Jaitley.
BJP leaders from Amritsar had run a media campaign to convince Jaitley to contest from Amritsar in 2014. Now, the same leaders have been maintaining a studied silence on whether they want Jaitley to contest again from Amritsar in the by-election that may be held with the upcoming Assembly election.

Watch What Else Is Making News

“I am not eligible to speak on it. Only the party’s parliamentary board can decide. We will support whoever is fielded by the party from Amritsar,” said Rajesh Kumar Honey, BJP district president.

“This seat is with BJP and it will contest it. SAD has not demanded it. I cannot speak on who should be the candidate. The parliamentary board will decide,” said Shawit Malik, the Rajya Sabha MP from Amritsar. On the possibility of fielding a Sikh from the seat, he said, “Religion has never been the criterion for selecting a candidate. That will be done only on merit.”

BJP National Secretary Tarun Chug said, “First, Captain Amarinder Singh should resign from the Lok Sabha. There are technical issues in his resignation and it would not be accepted by the Speaker. Resignation from Lok Sabha should be a one-liner without giving any reason. But the Captain has resigned from the Lok Sabha by giving a reason. So, the Captain should first resign properly and also make other Congress MPs from Punjab resign. What he is doing by giving his technically wrong resignation is hypocrisy. We (BJP) are a political party and we will definitely contest elections. But first, the Captain should resign according to norms.” But can Jaitley make a comeback? “I am no one to comment on it. The BJP high command will choose the candidate,” Chug shot back.

“Local BJP leaders had invited Jaitley in 2014 to free the seat from Navjot Singh Sidhu. Now, their work is done and they would seek this seat for themselves,” said a BJP leader.

Besides, Congress leaders have also given the impression that Congress can use this opportunity to make a better deal with Sidhu.

“The Amritsar seat can be offered to Navjot Singh Sidhu to contest. But going by Sidhu’s behaviour in the last two months, he can accept the same offer from BJP, too,” said a Congress leader. District Congress president Gurjit Aujla said, “The decision will be taken by the party high command.”

Potential candidates in 2014 like Congress MLA from Amritsar Central Assembly constituency, Om Parkash Soni, said, “I will contest from any seat the party wants me to. I am ready to contest either for Lok Sabha or Assembly elections.”