The list of candidates released by BJP for the February 4 Assembly polls has drawn the battle lines within the party and in Ludhiana’s case, within a family too. On two of its three seats in Ludhiana, BJP has dropped senior party leaders Satpal Gosain and Rajinder Bhandari.
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Gosain (78), three-time MLA and former health minister, was in race for ticket from Ludhiana Central. His grandson Amit Gosain, son Sudarshan Gosain and daughter Rajeshwari Gosain too were in race for the ticket from the same seat. However, this time, the party has picked Gurdev Sharma Debi (56) an industrialist, liquor baron and a relative of Gosain. Currently the state treasurer of BJP, he owns a paint factory in Ludhiana. He is the cousin of husband of Rajeshwari Gosain.
Satpal Gosain, who lost in 2012 to Congress’s Surinder Dawar by 7,000 votes, said, “It is an utterly wrong decision taken by the party. Workers are not in favour this candidate and there is heavy resentment against him. None of the workers at grassroots will campaign for Sharma. I am a loyal party worker, but even I won’t campaign for him. My work for BJP in coming polls stops from today.”
Gosain, who has reportedly been dropped due to the age factor, also said Sharma had managed the ticket based on a “bundle of lies”. “He is claiming he is my relative. Yes, he is the cousin of my daughter’s husband. But we are not on good terms. He used my name to get this ticket,” Gosain said.
Sharma, meanwhile, said Gosain was like his father. “He cannot deny we are family. He is like my father and we have worked together for 20 years. He is a little offended, but I will meet him and patch up soon. I respect him. He has been denied ticket due to his age,” he said.
Even Gosain’s grandson Amit Gosain (35), a BJP Yuva leader, was against his grandfather getting ticket this time. “My grandfather’s age is unsuitable now for contesting polls. I consider myself a perfect candidate the party needs,” he said.
From Ludhiana West, BJP has dropped professor Rajinder Bhandari (61) in favour of Kamal Chetli (50). A real estate baron and BJP Yuva Morcha leader, Chetli is contesting for the first time. He was also president of Real Estate and Colonizers Association. “The current Congress MLA has done nothing for industrialists and traders in Ludhiana. This time, BJP will win this seat by a huge margin,” he claimed.
Bhandari, who lost to Congress’s Bharat Bhushan Ashu in 2012 by almost 35,000 votes, said, “The party high command has already informed me that my services are needed somewhere else. I will support Chetli.”
From Ludhiana North, BJP has once again picked Parveen Bansal, former district unit president who lost to Congress’s Rakesh Pandey in 2012 by a thin margin of 2,000 votes.