Amritsar: Bharatiya Janata Party's Sikh face and local popular leader Rajinder Mohan Singh Chhina is the party's choice for Amritsar Lok Sabha by-election, slated along with state assembly polls on February 4. The seat has fallen vacant following the resignation by Captain Amarinder Singh. A former Chairman of Punjab Small Scale Industries and Export Corporation and Amritsar Improve Trust, Chhina enjoys good rapport with the BJP alliance partner Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal).
A Jat Sikh leader with both urban and rural following, Chhina is past vice president of the Punjab BJP and presently an executive member. He is considered a close confidant of Union Finance Minister and senior party leader Arun Jaitley and was covering candidate for him during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in which Jaitley lost to Capt Amarinder with heavy margin. The Amritsar constituency having nine assembly segments constitutes 64 per cent Sikh voters.
Chhina is pro-chancellor of newly established Khalsa University and secretary of the powerful and historic Khalsa College Governing Council (KCGC) which is headed by deputy CM Sukhbir Badal's father-in-law and father of Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Satyajit Singh Majithia. He is also President of Indian Academy of Fine Art (IAFA) and Director of Punjab National Bank in Delhi. Basically hailing from an affluent farming family, Chhina also runs the business of brickiln industry and commercial sites in the city.
Amritsar constituency has been represented by Navjot Singh Sidhu in Lok Sabha from 2004 to 2014 when his candidature was changed and Jaitley unsuccessfully contested the seat. Chhina is an arch rival of Sidhu and was the main contender for the Amritsar (East) seat during the 2012 assembly elections when the ticket was snatched from him and given to Sidhu's wife Dr.Navjot Kaur Sidhu. He does not see an eye to eye with Sidhu couple and one of the few Sikh leaders with the BJP party after Sidhu has left the party to join the Congress.
If we make a peep into the history, the Amritsar constituency has been won by the Congress largely. In 1966 when state of Punjab was re-organized after carving out Himachal and Haryana, Akali leader Bikram Majithia's grand father Surjit Singh Majithia won from Congress ticket and became Minister in Nehru government. The seat was represented by Durga Das Bhatia and then by his younger brother RL Bhatia who represented the seat five times. It was in 1977 that Janata Party's Baldev Parkash won the seat with Akalis's help. Congress RL Bhatia won the seat in 1980 and repeated the victory in 1984 but he was defeated by Janata Party's Kirpal Singh in 1989.
Congress's RL Bhatia re-captured the seat in 1991 and again won in 1996 but again he was defeated by BJP's Daya Singh Sodhi in 1998. He won the seat again in 1999 but he was defated by Navjot Singh Sidhu in 2004 and again in 2009. In 2014 Captain Amarinder won by defeating Arun Jaitley.