Lok Sabha polls 2019: Voices of revolt sound louder among BJP leaders in Punjab

Sitting BJP MP Vijay Sampla from Hoshiarpur and former Gurdaspur MP Vinod Khanna’s wife Kavita Khanna have become quite vocal in expressing their displeasure at the party denying them tickets

Vijay Sampla and Kavita Khanna (Twitter)
Vijay Sampla and Kavita Khanna (Twitter)

Bipin Bhardwaj

The voices of revolt have become louder among BJP leaders including sitting Member of Parliament from Hoshiarpur Vijay Sampla and Kavita Khanna, wife of the late film star Vinod Khanna who was four-time Gurdaspur MP, with the saffron party denying them tickets from their respective constituencies in Punjab for 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Ditching Sampla, a Dalit leader from Doaba region of Punjab and Kavita Khanna, the BJP has fielded a former IAS officer and MLA from Phagwara, Som Prakash from Hoshiarpur while Bollywood actor Sunny Deol has been selected as the replacement of Vinod Khanna from Gurdaspur.

Soon after the BJP high command announced Som Parkash, a party candidate from Hoshiarpur, Sampla took to social media and aired his resentment on Twitter claiming that the BJP has committed a “cow killing”(gau hatya ) by not re-nominating him from the constituency.

On his Twitter account Sampla (April 23, ) wrote: “It was saddening the BJP committed ‘cow slaughter’. They could have told me my faults. What was my fault; that I have no charges of corruption on me, no one can raise a finger on my conduct, got an airport, a railway station and roads built in my region? If these are my faults then I will tell the coming generations that they should not commit such mistakes.”

He even decided to hold a meeting with his supporters before taking any future action.

To pacify enraged Sampla who reached Hoshiarpur from Delhi on Friday, senior BJP leaders including Capt. Abhimanyu, in charge of the BJP in Punjab, Shwait Malik, president of Punjab BJP unit, Som Parkash, and some others visited Sampla but had to face the fury of his unreceptive supporters.

Earlier, Haryana Chief Minister, Manohar Lal Khattar, Union Minister Mahesh Sharma, BJP General Secretary Dinesh Sharma, party’s National Secretary Tarun Chugh, made a futile attempt to placate Sampla at the Adampur Airport (near Jalandhar) where he landed from Delhi.

Party insiders claim that Sampla’s equations with Malik, a close associate of union finance minister Arun Jaitley, have been going through a rough patch for a long time and the latter had opposed former’s re-nomination from Hoshiarpur. This was evident in his not being nominated and Sampla was apprehensive of the development.

Hitting out at his own party leaders, Sampla, however, claimed that party candidate (Som Prakash) got registered 38 false criminal cases against BJP workers which he managed to cancel. Without naming Shwait Malik, he also blamed that ‘certain party leaders of the state’ have changed the party structure after taking over the command and have been giving misleading information to the party high command.

A ticket aspirant from Gurdaspur, Kavita Khanna says she was betrayed by the BJP and is evaluating her options, including contesting as an independent candidate to carry forward her husband’s legacy. After the BJP denied her ticket and announced Sunny Deol as its candidate from Gurdaspur, Kavita has been meeting people and party workers in the constituency. She was in the constituency and has virtually started her own election campaign.

At present, the Congress MP Sunil Jakhar, who is also president of the Punjab Congress, represents the constituency. Jakhar has won the seat by defeating BJP candidate Swaran Salaria with a margin of 1,93,219 votes in October 2017 byelections, necessitated after the death of Vinod Khanna on April 27, 2017. Kavita was among the frontrunners for the BJP ticket during the 2017 bypoll, but the party chose Salaria, a Mumbai based businessman over her.

She recalled having accompanied Vinod Khanna in Gurdaspur to work for the people of the constituency for 20 years. “I have faith in God. I have worked here for twenty years. When Vinod ji was unwell, I used to meet people of the constituency. People wanted me as their MP,” she added.

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