After a high-profile battle between two stalwarts–BJP’s Arun Jaitley and Congress’ Amarinder Singh in 2014–the Amritsar Lok Sabha bypoll this year is seeing a low-profile but high-stakes contest with the parties leaving no stoned unturned to ensure their victory.
The three-cornered fight between Congress, BJP-SAD combine and AAP has been overshadowed as the by-poll will be held simultaneously with the Assembly polls in the state on February 4.
The by-poll has been necessitated after Amarinder resigned as an MP in protest against the Supreme Court verdict on the SYL Canal water sharing agreement.
Of the over 14 lakh electorates registered in Amritsar LS seat, 60 per cent are Sikh voters, and the three parties have not ignored this fact.
They have fielded candidates who belong to the Sikh community and hail from the holy city, which is famous, among other things, for the Golden temple, Attari-Wagah border, the Jallianwala Bagh and for its food.
66-year-old BJP’s Rajinder Mohan Singh Chhina, Congress’ Gurjit Singh Aujla (44) and AAP’s Upkar Singh Sandhu(63) are among those in the fray.
Chhina, who is considered close to Union minister Arun Jaitley, has formerly served BJP as its state unit’s vice president and is now its executive member. Chhina had unsuccessfully contested the 2007 Assembly polls from the Amritsar-West seat.
Aujla, considered close to Amarinder, was appointed vice president of the Amritsar District Youth Congress in 1997 and has been District Congress Committee (Rural) president since 2013.
AAP’s Sandhu (63), who was formerly with SAD, had a brief three-month stint with the Congress before he joined Arvind Kejriwal-led party earlier this month.
Sandhu had resigned from SAD earlier in protest against the sacrilege incidents in the state and alleged failure of the state government in nabbing the culprits.
Starting from Gurmukh Singh Musafir and then R L Bhatia, Amritsar Lok Sabha had traditionally remained a Congress bastion until a young Najvot Singh Sidhu (now 53) as a BJP candidate trounced Congress veteran and six-time parliamentarian Bhatia in 2004 LS polls.
The seat remained with Sidhu till 2014 when he made way for Jaitley to contest the Lok Sabha polls. Jaitley lost the seat to Amarinder.
Cricketer-turned-politician Sidhu remained the BJP MP from Amritsar, winning the seat in 2004, 2007 by-poll and in 2009.