Amritsar, Jan 6: Bharatiya Janata Party’s top brass will meet here on January 10 to chalk out the polls strategy for state’s three Lok Sabha seats namely Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur.
BJP’s national organizing secretary Ram Lal will head the Core Committee meeting that will discuss polls strategy with Punjab BJP leaders.
The top Punjab party leaders will take part in meeting scheduled to take place in Amritsar on January 10, which will discuss issues relating finalization of party candidates for the crucial polls.
The party insiders stated that, there is every likelihood that sitting Amritsar MP and former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu is shifted away from Amritsar. There are reports that BJP national general secretary and leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, may contest from here.
The names of Punjab BJP Chief Kamal Sharma and vice President Rajinder Mohan Singh Chhina are also in the pipeline. Sidhu is also interested to field his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu, who is sitting MLA from Amritsar (East) and chief parliamentary secretary in Badal government.
If Arun Jaitley does not put his hat in the ring and Kamal Sharma also stays away from the seat as he is an ‘outsider’, Chhina who is an arch rival of Sidhu, will be party’s choice for the seat. However, there are rumours that BJP may swap Amritsar seat with the Akalis.
Chhina had been Chairman of Punjab Small Scale Industries and Export Corporation in Badal government. He was Chairman of Improvement Trust, when Sidhu opposed him for the post saying he wanted his own man for coveted position in 2009. Chhina is an honorary secretary of Khalsa College and President of Indian Academy of Fine Art.
It is learnt that Sidhu is interested in contesting from Delhi (West) and following his spat with the alliance partner Shiormani Akal Dal (Badal) last year on the issue of development. There is a strong anti-incumbency factor against him as he has been staying away from the constituency for long periods. The Core Committee is all set to review the performance of other sitting MPs too.
BJP Core Committee will ponder over Sidhu’s support to issues which were not in accordance with the party’s ideology and policies, particularly his open support to anti-reservation agitation in the city by the doctors.
The Core Committee, according to sources, will take the issue of Sidhu’s spat with CM Parkash Singh Badal whom BJP holds in high esteem as they consider Badal their most trusted and reliable ally.
Sidhu’s open spat with alliance partner had damaged the party’s image in the city. Akali cadres had not taken the utterances against Badal by Sidhu lightly and given the demographic pattern of Amritsar, no BJP leader can win this seat without the active support from Akalis as out of 9 assembly constituencies four belongs to Akalis, two BJP and three with the Congress.
According to Parliament’s official data (http://www.prsindia.org/mptrack/navjotsinghsidhu), Sidhu spent only Rs.9.45 crores out of the total Rs.19 crores sanctioned for MP Local Area Development (MPLAD) funds for the Amritsar constituency. Sidhu, however, has disputed the facts contained in the official data and has claimed that he had spent much more from the MPLAD funds.
The data also revealed that his attendance is merely 28 per cent in the 15th Lok Sabha while he took part in just three debates and asked 99 questions only while the national average of questions asked is 292.
Sidhu who claims to bat for Amritsar’s development and welfare did not ask any question regarding any issue since December 2011, as per the data available on website. Sidhu however stated that he never asked for the ticket and it was the BJP high command which wanted him to contest from Amritsar. “This time too I will wait for the party’s decision”, he stated recently.
The Core Committee will also discuss names for Hoshiarpur seat where two names including former MP Som Parkash and Vijay Sampla are doing the round.
Even the name of popular Punjabi singer Miss Puja is also being discussed. In Gurdaspur BJP is likely to field cine star and former MP Vinod Khanna once again who was defeated by Congress leader Partap Singh Bajwa last time. The name of Swaran Slaria however is also doing the rounds.
Sharma stated that all issues relating polls will be discussed. He however said that so far Sidhu is their candidate from Amritsar and the change if required would be discussed only at the party forums. He said the Core Committee will discuss ways to strengthen the organization at the meeting. (ANI)