Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is going to rely on the outcome of a survey to field candidates for the upcoming Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat, which fell vacant after the death of the sitting Member of Parliament (MP) Vinod Khanna of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), after the Election Commission (EC) announced 11 October as the date for bypoll for the vacant seat.
Kavita Khanna, wife of late Vinod Khanna, who has looked after the constituency during Khanna’s hospitalisation and his absence from the constituency, has expressed desire to contest the election on BJP ticket.
Sources said the survey ordered by BJP president Amit Shah survey to assess the winnability of ticket aspirants is complete and the party’s parliamentary board is likely to consider the outcome of this survey before finalising the ticket.
Besides Khanna’s widow, the other strong contender for the BJP ticket is Mumbai-based businessman Swaran Salaria who had earlier tried for the ticket.
“It’s obvious that Khanna’s widow will get sympathy votes, but the party is not taking any chances. The field survey on popularity of ticket aspirants holds the key,” said a senior BJP leader requesting anonymity.
The Punjab-BJP general secretary Dinesh Kumar said it was the prerogative of the party’s parliamentary board to decide the candidate.
Asked whether Khanna could be the possible candidate, Kumar said the candidate would be finalised by the parliamentary board possibly in next three-four days. The BJP will jointly contest the bypoll with its ally Shiromani Akali Dal.
Other political parties are also yet to finalise their candidates even as less than a month is left for the bypoll which is likely to be contest between ruling Congress party and the BJP, while the Aam Aadmi Party is expected to serve as a spoiler in this first electoral contest after Assembly elections in February.
For Congress ticket, party’s Punjab unit president Sunil Jakhar is the front runner but Charanjit Kaur Bajwa, wife of Rajya Sabha member and former Lok Sabha member from Gurdaspur Partap Singh Bajwa, is also a contender for the ticket.
Bajwas want to retain the seat in their home turf within the family ahead of 2019 general elections. Bajwa’s wife Charanjit Kaur Bajwa is a former MLA from Qadian constituency (in Gurdaspur) which is now represented by her brother-in-law Fateh Jung Singh Bajwa.
The AAP, which has started the poll-campaign, has formed a three-member committee to shortlist the candidate from several ticket aspirants. The party, which failed to win a single seat in the Gurdaspur Parliamentary constituency, intends to field a local candidate.