The tussle between two senior Punjab BJP leaders – Som Parkash and Vijay Sampla – is once again in focus over bypoll to Phagwara assembly constituency with the former trying to get a ticket for his wife and the latter attempting to get it for his son.
It is widely expected that the byelections to the four assembly constituencies of Dakha, Jalalabad, Phagwara and Mukerian will take place simultaneously with the Haryana Assembly elections in October.
In the May 2019 general elections, Som Parkash had managed to edge out Sampla, then a Union minister of state and sitting MP, from the Hoshiarpur Lok Sabha seat. He went on to win the seat and is now a Union Minister of State while Sampla is in political wilderness. In the immediate aftermath of him not getting the ticket from Hoshiarpur, Sampla had tweeted that BJP had done gau hatya (cow slaughter).
The Phagwara seat has fallen vacant after Som Parkash, who was the sitting MLA, resigned to take up his seat as MP in Lok Sabha. BJP sources say that intense lobbying is on within the party to ensure that the ticket is given to his wife, Anita Devi.
On the other hand, Sampla camp is trying its best to ensure that his son, Sahil, gets the ticket. Sampla had to face intense infighting within the party when he was the state president (before the incumbent, Shwait Malik). He had also attempted to get his Lok Sabha constituency changed from Hoshiarpur to Jalandhar but the move was foiled by his detractors within state unit of BJP who later ensured that he did not get a ticket at all.
While the BJP is confident that it will retain the Phagwara seat and will also wrest the Mukerian seat from Congress hands, yet the fact remains that Som Parkash had won the 2017 assembly polls by a narrow margin of around 2000 votes. In the Lok Sabha elections, Som Parkash led by around 5000 votes from this segment. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is also a key player in this reserved constituency with the BSP candidate for Lok Sabha polls getting nearly 30,000 votes from the segment.
BJP s lead in the Mukerian Assembly segment was considerably larger as compared to Phagwara. With the party candidate getting 74,913 votes as compared to 37,207 of Congress. However, Congress leaders say that this was due to the fact that the party MLA from Mukerian, Rajnish Kumar Babbi, who has since passed away, was suffering from cancer and could not actively campaign for their candidate. There is no chance that BJP will win from Phagwara or Mukerian, said Nimisha Mehta, Congress spokesperson.
In another development, BJP s Punjab unit has appointed former minister, Tikshan Sood as the in-charge for Phagwara assembly bypoll and former state president Ashwani Sharma for the Mukerian constituency.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the state executive here, which was attended by Shwait Malik, and other senior leaders. BJP leaders claim that they will do well in the Phagwara as well as Mukerian because the people are fed up with the Congress government.
Shwait Malik, meanwhile, said that there was no government in Punjab. The Congress government has proved to be one of the worst in the history of independent Punjab. There is no governance at all and corruption is at the peak. People from all walks of life are fed up and in a mood to teach them a lesson, he said.
He said BJP will ensure that power is not misused by the Congress government in the state during elections. Those trying to misuse power will be taught a lesson. These bypolls will also set the stage for Congress Mukt Punjab in 2022, he said.