Punjab Pradesh Congress committee president Sunil Kumar Jakhar was on Wednesday nominated by the Congress to contest Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll scheduled on October 11.
The official stamp on his candidature was put by AICC president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday itself. She is learnt to have called up Jakhar late last night after discussing the issue with AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who is currently on a visit to the US. Gandhi had informed Jakhar last evening that he was her choice for the seat. The formal announcement came on Wednesday after AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi released a signed statement.
Jakhar, a loyalist of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, was being backed by the CM for his candidature. Although former Punjab Congress president and a protege of Rahul, Partap Singh Bajwa had staked the claim on the ticket for his ex-MLA wife Charanjit Kaur Bajwa. The couple had met Sonia at her residence yesterday.
Jakhar would visit Gurdaspur on Thursday and kick off his campaign. Besides Gurdaspur being a prestige battle for six-month-old Congress government in Punjab, it is also a high-stakes battle for Jakhar. He is the top man of Congress in Punjab and losing the election will not reflect well on both him and the Congress.
The by-poll was necessitated after the demise of Bollywood actor Vinod Khanna, who was five-time BJP MP from the border district of Punjab. Khanna passed away on April 27.