Jakhar scores with early election campaign, BJP plans catch-up

Gurdaspur, March 18

Keeping in view the regular visits of MP Sunil Jakhar to his parliamentary constituency, the BJP, led by its state president Shwait Malik, has decided to counter him by putting the party’s campaign in the fast forward mode.

Of the three prospective candidates, Kavita Khanna, Swaran Salaria and Akshaye Khanna, only Kavita is making her presence felt in the area. Salaria is said to be working his contacts in Delhi, while the party has now started maintaining a silence on Akshaye after putting his name in public domain as a probable candidate a few days ago.

Fearing that Jakhar, who is sure to be renominated, may score points by kick-starting his campaign early, Malik and senior leaders have decided to lead the charge and have charted out a plan to take on the MP. Malik along with state general secretaries Rakesh Rathour and Parveen Bansal and Gurdaspur unit president Balkrishan Mittal are regularly holding meetings where party men are being asked to iron out their differences.

In the 2017 bypoll, Salaria had lost by a massive margin of 1.93 lakh votes primarily because the party was plagued by intensefactionalism.

While Kavita Khanna is a regular feature at the gatherings, the leadership is hard pressed to explain the absence of Salaria.

The constituency has nine assembly seats, out of which seven are represented by the Congress. In the remaining two, Sujanpur and Batala, the party has nominated halqa chiefs. “This gives the impression that the Congress leadership is on the same page, while in contrast, the BJP is yet to set its house in order,” said a top BJP leader.

In Pathankot, which is considered to be a traders’ city and a BJP hub, there are several groups, all working at cross purposes.

Former MLA Ashwani Sharma has his own assemblage, his one-time loyalist and councilor Anil Rampal heads yet another group, while former minister Master Mohan Lal is leading his own pack. The BJP Mayor and politically astute Anil Vasudeva is busy weighing his options and till yet he has not joined any group nor has formed one.

Batala, too, considered to be a BJP stronghold, is in the throes of infighting with many splinter groups surfacing in the recent past. However, the faction led by MC president Naresh Mahajan has emerged as the most powerful. Moreover, it is a known fact that the Batala BJP and the SAD are at daggers drawn with each other.

“The BJP stands united. On the contrary, it is the Congress which is trying hard to keep its flock together,” claimed Malik.

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