The BJP elders in the three urban seats of Jalandhar Assembly – Jalandhar Central, Jalandhar North and Jalandhar West Assembly segments – face fierce competition from new challengers. BJP has a solid foundation in these segments.
From Jalandhar Central, three times MLA Manoranjan Kalia has been running since 1992 and had won three times by here in 1997, 2007 and 2012. He lost to Congress candidates in 1992, 2002 and 2017. This time too he asked for the ticket from that seat.
From Jalandhar North, two-time MLA KD Bhandhari tried to clinch the ticket as he won the Vidhan Sabha elections in 2007 and 2012, while he lost in 2017 when Congress candidate Bawa Henry beat him by a huge margin.
In Jalandhar West, Mahinder Pal Bhagat, a three-time MP and son of former minister Bhagat Chuni Lal, tried to clinch the ticket as he contested in 2017 from here but lost to the Congress candidate Sushil Rinku.
Kalia, Bhandhari and Mahinder Pal Bhagat had lost their respective seats in the 2017 elections by huge margins – 24,000 votes, 32,000 votes and over 17,000 votes, respectively.
This margin of loss is what the new contenders for the ticket are putting forward by claiming that these leaders no longer have support on the ground.
BJP sources said that from Jalandhar North, former BJP Mayor Rakesh Rathore tried to land the ticket this time.
Rathore also has the backing of Union Minister Anurag Thakur, while from Jalandhar Central, RSS-backed adviser Shaili Khanna and BJP executive member Mahila Morcha Annu Sharma are in the running.
From Jalandhar West, former BJP Minister and Chairman of National Commission for Annex Caste Vijay Sampla wants a ticket for a family member.
Bhandhari, meanwhile, has the support of his brother-in-law and former Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha member Avinash Rai Khanna,
The BJP, according to sources, is likely to contest around 80 seats compared to 23 previously when allied with SAD. This time, Amarinder Singh’s Punjab Lok Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal. (Samyukta) are his partners.
Sources also said that even out of its traditional 23 seats, the party could try new faces this time around.