Soon after the Aam Aadmi Party announced its decision to field former Punjab BJP vice-president Mohinder Bhagat, 64, as its Jalandhar West candidate, the Bharatiya Janta Party on Monday announced that former AAP MLA Sheetal Angural, 40, would be its nominee for the July 10 byelection.

The Bharatiya Janta Party on Monday announced that former AAP MLA Sheetal Angural, 40, would be its nominee for the July 10 byelection. (HT file photo)

Angural had snapped ties with the ruling AAP in the state to join the saffron party on March 27 in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.

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The seat fell vacant after Punjab assembly Speaker Kultar Singh Sandhwan finally accepted Angural’s resignation on May 30.

In the 2022 assembly election, Angural had defeated then Congress candidate Sushil Kumar Rinku, 49, by 4,253 votes.

Angural started his political career with the BJP before he joined the AAP and successfully contested the 2022 assembly elections. Angural switched back to the BJP along with AAP’s former MP Sushil Kumar Rinku, who lost to former chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi of the Congress by a record 1.75 lakh votes on June 4.

Rinku and Angural belong to Jalandhar West constituency and have been at loggerheads for most of their political careers. It was after Rinku joined the BJP that their relations improved and now they are often seen together.

After becoming MLA in 2022, Angural was the first to accuse the BJP of poaching leaders following which the Bhagwant Mann government termed it ‘Operation Lotus’. However, after joining the BJP, Angural accused the ruling AAP of forcing him to issue statements against the saffron party.

Angural wrote to the Speaker on May 30 asking him to allow him to withdraw his resignation but Sandhwan rejected his plea.

On June 3, a day before the Lok Sabha election results, the office of the Speaker informed Angural that his resignation had been accepted on May 30 under the anti-defection law. “Therefore, there is no window to withdraw the resignation at this stage,” it said.

The action against Angural was taken according to the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, also known as the anti-defection law. The law states that a member of a House, belonging to any political party, shall be disqualified if he voluntarily gives up membership of his party.

The Jalandhar byelection has become a prestige battle for all parties, particularly the AAP and the BJP, as they are going all out to dominate in the SC-reserved constituency.

Though Channi had defeated Rinku to win the Jalandhar Lok Sabha constituency by a record margin of 1.75 lakh votes, the victory margin in Jalandhar West assembly segment was thin. In the BJP stronghold, Channi got a meagre lead of 1,557 votes over his rival.