Last Updated: March 15, 2023, 20:10 IST
Jalandhar [Jullundur], India
The party has given the ticket to his widow Karamjit Kaur Chaudhary. (Image: Shutterstock)
Elections to the reserved constituency of Jalandhar has been necessitated due to the death of Santokh Singh Chaudhary who suffered a cardiac arrest during the Bharat Jodo Yatra when it entered Punjab two months back
Desperate to hold on to its stronghold, the Congress is worried over the recent spate of Vigilance cases lodged against its leaders in the run-up to the Jalandhar Lok Sabha bypoll, fuelling poaching fears.
Elections to the reserved constituency of Jalandhar has been necessitated due to the death of Santokh Singh Chaudhary who suffered a cardiac arrest during the Bharat Jodo Yatra when it entered Punjab two months back. The party has given the ticket to his widow Karamjit Kaur Chaudhary.
Santokh Singh Chaudhary won the seat in both 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections. In the 2022 Punjab Assembly elections, the Congress won five of nine seats in the Jalandhar district, while the Aam Aadmi Party candidates were victorious in the remaining seats.
The AAP and BJP are yet to announce their candidate for the poll battle. Stakes are even higher for Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann after the Sangrur failure. While the Congress will try a desperate bid to hold on to the constituency, the BJP will also test its preparedness for the 2024 fight.
Congress insiders fear that the recent vigilance probe by the Bhagwant Mann government against its top Dalit leaders like former Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi was aimed at causing a scare in the camp.
“There could be an attempt to trigger a crossover of some leaders, apprehensive of the vindictive attitude of the AAP. The vigilance probe is the best way to put pressure on some vulnerable leaders,” commented a Congress leader.
Jalandhar bye-election in charge and Deputy CM Himachal Pradesh Mukesh Agnihotri has called a meeting of party leaders on March 18 to take stock of the situation. The meeting is also expected to be attended by Punjab affairs in-charge Harish Chaudhary, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Raja Warring and other senior state leaders.
Former Minister and MLA Kapurthala Rana Gurjit has been made Campaign Committee in charge and Avtar Singh Junior MLA (North) Jalandhar has been made coordination committee in charge of the bypoll to keep a tab on the `movements’ within the party. “We are confident we will be able to avert any cross over and a close watch is being kept,’’ said a party leader.
The Vigilance has recently launched a probe against senior party leaders like former MLA Kuldeep Vaid and even issued a lookout notice against former CM Channi. Party leaders allege there is definitely a tangible link. “They want to scare some leaders with a political vendetta time to the bypoll,’’ the leader added.
Congress leaders said that with the pressure from the Vigilance Department, party leaders were not able to focus on the nine assembly segments with some even going “inactive” in the past few days.
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