Khanna Legacy Up for Grab

If Congress is get­ting sup­port of Vinod Khanna’s sec­ond wife Kavita, BJP may get aided by Pratap Singh Ba­jwa’s anger with his lead­er­ship for deny­ing ticket to his wife or brother

The Day After - - CONTENT - By Anil AnAnd

Why is the bi-elec­tion to Gur­daspur Lok Sabha seat as­sum­ing sig­nif­i­cance by the day? One strong rea­son and not the only one is that the seg­ment was rep­re­sented by mati­nee idol and BJP leader Vinod Khanna whose demise due to can­cer ne­ces­si­tated the poll. Ever since he breathed his last spec­u­la­tions were rife as to who would the BJP field in his place, whether it would be one of his close fam­ily mem­bers or an­other cine-star or a party leader.

Fi­nally this mys­tery has been re­solved and Khanna’s fam­ily mem­bers, his sec­ond wife Kavita Khanna and son and film-star Ak­shay Khanna were be­ing men­tioned as pos­si­ble can­di­dates, lost out to some­one though as­so­ci­ated with BJP but known for his cre­den­tials as a lead­ing busi­ness­man. Swaran Singh Salaria is the BJP nom­i­nee for the bi-poll. His name was do­ing the rounds for 2014 Lok Sabha elec­tions but with all his might he failed to up­stage Vinod Khanna.

Salaria had been ey­ing Gur­daspur seat since long but could not make it de­spite prom­ise held-out to him by BJP big-wigs. The ob­vi­ous stum­bling block was Khanna and the cred­i­bil­ity which the late-film star had man­aged to built for him in the con­stituency bor­der­ing Pak­istan. So fi­nally the BJP high com­mand has kept its prom­ise.

The bat­tle lines have al­ready been drawn for Oc­to­ber 11 elec­tions as it is again go­ing to be a three-cor­nered con­test be­tween BJP, Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The Congress has fielded its Pun­jab chief Su­nil Jakhar, who son of for­mer Lok Sabha Speaker Bal­ram Jhakhar, whereas Ma­jor Gen­eral (re­tired) Suresh Kha­juria is the AAP can­di­date.

The only con­fu­sion and point of in­ter­est was the se­lec­tion of BJP nom­i­nee due to afore­said fac­tors. It had gen­er­ated keen­ness par­tic­u­larly among po­lit­i­cal ob­serves and an­a­lysts as every­one was watch­ing as to how the duo of Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah ap­proach this poll in a bid to re­tain the seat par­tic­u­larly in the af­ter­math of drub­bing that the BJP-Shi­ro­mani Akali Dal got in the re­cent Pun­jab Assem­bly elec­tions, per­haps one of the few elec­toral set­backs that the BJP un­der this duo suf­fered since 2014 gen­eral elec­tions.

Amidst the talk of next Lok Sabha elec­tion be­ing held ear­lier than stip­u­lated May 2019 and a mas­sive loss of face in the Assem­bly elec­tions, Gur­daspur is be­com­ing sort of a pres­tige is­sue for BJP. Firstly, a vic­tory would help re­tain its stran­gle­hold in this area and se­condly it

would erase some bad mem­o­ries of ear­lier elec­toral loss and cre­ate a pos­i­tive note in the run up to gen­eral elec­tions.

The ride for self-suf­fi­cient Salaria with the backup of a strong Naren­dra Modi fac­tor is not go­ing to be easy. De­spite BJP hav­ing been marginal­ized more by its al­liance part­ner and big-brother in the state Prakash Singh Badal-led Shi­ro­mani Akali Dal, the party has strong fac­tions who have not favourably viewed Salaria’s se­lec­tion. Jakhar’s meet­ing with Kavita Khanna im­me­di­ately af­ter fil­ing nom­i­na­tion pa­pers have al­ready set the tongues wag­ging whether the Khanna fam­ily will back the BJP nom­i­nee or some­one else.

There might not be an open re­volt against him but he would have to take mea­sure of the dis­con­tent. At the same time the SAD po­ten­tial to check growth of BJP at ev­ery step is still as strong as lat­ter’s de­feat suits the Badals more to re­main for­mi­da­bly rel­e­vant in the BJP-SAD coali­tion and at the same time di­min­ish any BJP plans to go solo in near fu­ture.

As is the strong per­cep­tion cre­ated by the BJP strate­gists this bi-elec­tion will be no dif­fer­ent from oth­ers and will be viewed from the prism of Modi-fac­tor. It is still to be seen as to how PM Modi ap­proaches this elec­tion. Will a joint pub­lic meet­ing with Akali strong­man Prakash Singh Badal be on the cards or would be a solo Modi act?

In­ter­est­ingly all the three can­di­dates of con­tend­ing par­ties are Hin­dus which has some­thing to do with the re­li­gion-caste con­fig­u­ra­tion of the con­stituency. This is an­other mat­ter that Sikh can­di­dates in­clud­ing Congress’ Pratap Singh Ba­jwa, Ra­jya Sabha MP and for­mer Pun­jab chief of the party, had won ear­lier. Ba­jwa had un­suc­cess­fully tried to get man­date for ei­ther his wife or a brother and that has given cre­dence to re­ports that he might not fully sup­port Jakhar as was in­di­cated by his ab­sence from Congress’ in­au­gu­ral rally af­ter Jakhar filed his nom­i­na­tion.

The one sin­gle fac­tor which can stand be­tween Salaria (read Modi) and vic­tory could be Pun­jab Chief Min­is­ter Capt Am­rinder Singh who had sin­gle­hand­edly de­feated BJP-SAD rul­ing al­liance in Assem­bly elec­tions and at the same time warded-off a strong AAP chal­lenge. An­other fac­tor of strength for Congress would be crick­eter turned politi­cian and now a min­is­ter in Am­rinder cab­i­net Navjot Singh Sidhu who was ear­lier a BJP MP from the ad­join­ing Am­rit­sar seat.

De­spite se­lec­tion of a cred­i­ble face as its can­di­date, the AAP is be­set with se­ri­ous or­ga­ni­za­tional prob­lems which were the re­sult of a clash of Delhi ver­sus lo­cal lead­er­ship that cost the party heav­ily in the Assem­bly elec­tions. It had shat­tered the AAP supremo Arvind Ke­jri­wal’s dream of cap­tur­ing an­other state af­ter Delhi and pave for a big­ger bat­tle in the next Lok Sabha elec­tions.

It was the out­come of the Cen­tral and state lead­er­ship’s fre­quent ego clash as to who would ul­ti­mately rule the roost that the lat­ter has man­aged to prove their point. Ma­jor Gen­eral Kha­juria’s se­lec­tion as a can­di­date was more of a lo­cal event than hav­ing been dic­tated from Delhi. Still he would have to cover lot of ground to re­main in the reck­on­ing. The AAP nom­i­nee, de­spite the party do­ing well in other con­stituen­cies and win­ning four seats for maiden en­try into Lok Sabha, had stood third be­hind BJP and Congress in 2014.

De­spite se­lec­tion of a cred­i­ble face as its can­di­date, the AAP is be­set with se­ri­ous or­ga­ni­za­tional prob­lems which were the re­sult of a clash of Delhi ver­sus lo­cal lead­er­ship that cost the party heav­ily in the Assem­bly elec­tions

BJP can­di­date for the Gur­daspur Lok Sabha by­poll Swaran Singh Salaria files his nom­i­na­tion pa­pers

AAP can­di­date for Gur­daspur Lok Sabha by­poll Maj Gen Suresh Kha­juria (Retd), leader of Op­po­si­tion Sukh­pal Singh Khaira, and San­grur MP Bhag­want Mann ad­dress­ing a press con­fer­ence in Ja­land­har

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.