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'Outsider' Union Minister and son of the soil Congress MP battle it out in Amritsar (IANS Special)


Career diplomat-turned-Puri is roughing it out in in his maiden electoral foray battling out the "outsider" tag, voter's apathy and internal strife in local party unit.

In stark contrast to the high-profile contest in 2014 between stalwart and Punjab spearhead Amarinder Singh, the contest in the holy city is muted.

Puri is up against Gurjeet of the Congress, a relatively junior who won the 2017 Lok Sabha by-polls from the seat which was vacated by after becoming the Chief

Aujla was just a before entering the Parliament two years ago and drives home his local connect with the people of in his campaign speeches.

At an election meeting in cramped Lahori Gate area in the heart of city on a blistering Friday afternoon, Aujla told the gathering that he was one of their own while Puri will never be seen again after the elections like Jaitley.

"I am here with you. You have seen me, known me. I will fight your battles in Parliament," he said to the audience occupying seats choking the congested road.

Puri is functioning out of his home in upmarket Shastri Nagar near Lawrence Road.

Harinder Singh Khalsa, an from Fatehgarh Saheb is standing firmly with Puri after quitting the (AAP) and joining the BJP. An IFS batchmate of Puri, he has been camping in Amritsar along with several other supporters of the who have come from outside.

The local circles are abuzz about frictions in the state unit and the factors that may go against the The support from ally Akali Dal is missing and with its leaders like Ratan Singh Ajnala joining breakaway Taksali group, the support for Puri in the Assembly segment of Ajnala (one of the nine Assembly segments in Amritsar Lok Sabha seat) is expected to take a hit.

Within the BJP, it's who lost the by-polls with large margin to Aujla and there are reported frictions between local and who holds sway in Amritsar North.

Puri's supporter are countering the "outsider" tag by emphasising that in "ki nagri" (Guru's city) Amritsar nobody is an outsider. They said that initial resistances have been sorted out and his campaign has gathered steam.

They also remind the people about the "mistake" of defeating Jaitley as he went on to become the after losing from Amritsar and commanded immense powers. But Puri is already minister for Urban Development and will be able to work for the betterment of the city.

He has given a vision for Amritsar which includes giving it a holy city status. Apart from Golden Temple, the city has and

For the people on the street, it is poll fatigue and general apathy. Aujla is a known face and Puri is still trying hard to break the ice.

The issues are local. The closure of border trade has impacted around 40,000 traders. The fencing on the border is a major issue for the farmers who have fields beyond the fence.

Aujla is credited with undertaking work for closing a waste drain on causing major health hazard.

For the Congress, Navjot Singh Sidhu, who once represented Amritsar, is missing in action. His wife, Navjot, also an area MLA, is also keeping a low profile. Seen with Aujla is

What seems to be working for Aujla is his familiarity with the locals.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, May 11 2019. 12:26 IST