Even as former Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa sharpened his efforts to get his wife Charanjit Kaur Bajwa nominated as party candidate for the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll, several Congress MLAs from Gurdaspur started campaigning in the constituency, projecting incumbent PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar as the candidate.
Sources said Jakhar was also likely to start campaigning in the constituency soon. While the party may consider announcing the candidate formally after the ‘shradhs’, considered inauspicious days, Jakhar is likely hit the campaign trail in Gurdaspur before that.
“Jakhar is the PPCC president. He is within all his rights to kick off party’s campaign,” said a party leader, saying his candidature was final and only an announcement was awaited. Sources said the MLAs were already assigned duties by the PPCC and within 2-3 days the party campaign would pick up.
Jakhar told The Indian Express, “The party will be contesting the election whole-heartedly. We are fully geared up. We will win this election at all cost.” The last date of filing the nominations is September 22 and the shradhs end on September 20. The bypoll to the Lok Sabha segment, that fell vacant after the demise of MP Vinod Khanna, would be held on October 11.
On the other hand, Bajwa, who is camping in Delhi, is learnt to be lobbying hard to get his wife nominated. His wife was a former MLA from Qadian, who vacated the seat during last Assembly elections for his brother-in-law Fateh Jung Singh Bajwa.
Sources close to Bajwa said he had contacted Gurdaspur MLAs, who he claims were given the tickets at his insistence during Assembly elections, including Amit Vij from Pathankot, Joginder Pal from Bhoa. Amit Singh Mantu, who unsuccessfully contested from Sujanpur and Ashwini Sekhri, who lost from Batala are also considered a part of the Bajwa camp.
Also, the fact that Bajwa’s wife had won from Qadian in 2012 with a biggest margin of 16,000 among all women candidates, is a part of his wife’s profile being forwarded to the high command.
As the war for the ticket rages, Jakhar, sources close to him said, has made up his mind to tell the Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to consider Bajwa for the contest. “He is preparing to tell the CM and the high command to nominate Bajwa himself stating he would be the best bet as he has already represented the constituency. It is going to sort out the issue of dissent. Jakhar is going to tell party seniors that Bajwa had nothing to lose. If he loses the election, he can continue as Rajya Sabha member.”
AICC secretary Harish Choudhary held a meeting of all Gurdaspur MLAs at Education Minister Aruna Choudhary’s residence in Chandigarh on Wednesday, where all Gurdaspur MLAs, including Partap Singh Bajwas’ brother Fateh Bajwa, signed a letter that they would abide by party high command’s choice.