Congress’ Gurjeet Aujla retained Amritsar while BJP’s Taranjit Sandhu slipped to third position.

The incumbent Indian National Congress MP Gurjit Singh Aujla retained his seat, winning by 40,301 votes. His nearest rival was cabinet minister and Ahmed’s party candidate Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal.

Aujla secured 255,181 votes, Dhaliwal 214,880 votes and Sandhu 207,205 votes. Shiromani Akali Dal candidate Anil Joshi came fourth with 162,896 votes.

The BJP has been trying to wrest the seat back from the Congress ever since former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh won the seat by defeating Union minister Arun Jaitley in 2014. Another Union minister, Hardeep Singh Puri, lost the seat to Aujla in the 2019 elections.

BJP’s Daya Singh Sodhi first won this seat in 1998 and cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu was a MP from this seat thrice during his time with the BJP.

Sandhu’s election campaign has mainly focused on his connection to the city. Sandhu is the grandson of Akali leader Teja Singh Samundri, who was one of the founder members of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and a key figure in the Gurdwara reform movement in the 1920s. Sandhu is a 1988 graduate from the Indian Foreign Service. He retired in January this year and joined the BJP two months later.

Sandhu’s wife, Reenath, is also a diplomat and is currently India’s ambassador to the Netherlands.

Sandu was initially overwhelmed by the political noise, especially the constant disruption of election campaigning by protesting farmers, but she resumed her campaign in the final weeks before the election.

Union Minister Smriti Irani and BJP national president JP Nadda held a rally in support of Sandhu in Amritsar.

Aujla, 52, is an agriculturist and builder. He lives and was educated in Amritsar. During his five-year tenure as MP, his connection with the people of Amritsar remained personal and civil. He rarely courted controversy.

Considered a self-made politician, he became a member of the Congress after winning the by-election in 2017 when Captain Amarinder resigned from the Lok Sabha to contest the Punjab Assembly elections.

Aujla, who was then the Amritsar District Congress Committee (regional) president, was given the right to contest from the Amritsar constituency. He defeated BJP candidate Rajinder Mohan Singh Chinna by a margin of about 200,000 votes. He was also made member of the Standing Committee on External Relations that same year.

Aujla again won the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, defeating Puri by a margin of 99,626 votes and securing 51.70 per cent of the votes.

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)

Read also: Mooswala, anti-incumbent government, farmers’ anger against BJP — Congress’s plan for revival in Punjab for 2024

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