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Amritsar BJP does not want Navjot Singh Sidhu

Onkar Singh in Amritsar | March 27, 2004 10:52 IST

The Amritsar unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party is not happy with the reported move of the central leadership to nominate former international cricketer, Navjot Singh Sidhu, from the Amritsar Lok Sabha parliamentary seat in the forthcoming general election.

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Some of these leaders have already conveyed their displeasure saying they would rather sit at home than campaign for Sidhu.

Raghunandan Lal Bhatia of the Congress won the seat in the last election defeating Daya Singh Sodhi of the BJP by a margin of over 50,000 votes.

Bhatia, a former minister of state for external affairs in the Narasimha Rao government, is again in the fray.

Amongst those aspiring for the BJP ticket are Balramji Dass Tandon, former member of Parliament; state BJP chief Daya Singh Sodhi; former minister in the Prakash Singh Badal cabinet, Baldev Chawla; and thirty-five-year-old businessmen Anil Joshi. Another name doing the rounds is that of Ms Laxmi Kant Chawla, though she has denied she is in the race.

"The BJP high command will meet in Delhi on Saturday to decide the candidate," Baldev Chawla told

Anil Joshi and his supporters carried big banners welcoming Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his deputy Lal Kishenchand Advani at their joint rally in Gole Bagh on Friday afternoon.

Joshi's supporters made no secret of the fact that they would not accept Sidhu's candidature under any circumstances.

"When there are so many senior leaders available to the central leadership to choose from, why should they impose Sidhu on us? At this rate, all cricketers, television artistes and film stars would get the seats and ordinary workers who have been toiling for the party for years would lose heart and stop working for the party," said one of them.

But none of the aspiring candidates seem to have the courage to defy the central leadership in case it goes ahead with the decision to field Sidhu.

"We would abide by the party's decision," said one of them.

At present, Sidhu is in Pakistan in connection with the Indian cricket team's tour of that country but is expected to fly back to file his nomination papers.

The BJP has fielded film star-turned-politician Vinod Khanna from Gurdaspur and state BJP chief Avinash Khanna from Hoshiarpur. Its ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), will field candidates in the rest of the ten seats.


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