Punjab’s Lok Sabha election a homely affair, politically!

March 23rd, 2009 - 11:44 am ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Jaideep Sarin
Chandigarh, March 23 (IANS) The Lok Sabha elections in Punjab are going to be quite a family affair, politically speaking - going by the number of relatives of politicians who figure in the list of candidates for the state’s 13 parliamentary seats.

The announcement of candidates by the Congress for the state has former chief minister Amarinder Singh’s wife, Preneet Kaur, and son Raninder Singh (Tikku) among the names.

While Preneet Kaur is the Congress MP from the Patiala constituency, Raninder is a first time entrant into politics and has been named for the Bathinda seat.

What is likely to make the Bathinda contest even more interesting this time is that the ruling Akali Dal in Punjab has already announced that the party’s candidate for the seat will be from the Badal family - currently the state’s first political family.

The names of Surinder Kaur, wife of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, and Harsimrat Kaur, wife of Akali Dal president and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal, are doing the rounds in political circles. Either of them will contest the Bathinda seat on the Akali Dal ticket.

If that happens, this will be perhaps the biggest political battle between the Badals and Amarinder Singh.

The former chief minister, who hails from the erstwhile royal family of Patiala, is banking on the Bathinda seat for his son as their family hails from Mehraj village in Bathinda district.

Raninder is the 13th descendant of the Patiala royal family.

But the Akalis are not complaining of dynastic politics in the Punjab Congress given their own credentials in doing the same. In India’s political history, a father-son duo being a state’s chief minister and deputy chief minister is unparalleled.

Amarinder Singh and the Badals have, in the past, slapped corruption cases against each other in a game of political one-upmanship.

Amarinder Singh was once an Akali Dal leader but left the party to join the Congress. He is the best known face among Congress leaders in the state now.

Preneet Kaur will face senior Akali Dal leader Prem Singh Chandumajra for the Patiala seat.

For the Sangrur seat, Amarinder Singh’s close confidant and former Punjab Youth Congress leader Vijay Inder Singla has been named by the Congress. He will take on former union minister and Akali Dal leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa. Singla’s candidature has Amarinder Singh’s stamp written all over it.

In the newly created Anandpur Sahib constituency, the Congress has fielded another youth leader, Ravneet Singh Bittu. He is the grandson of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh - the man credited with ending terrorism (1981-1995) in the state.

Bittu has been handpicked by Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi. He (Bittu) is the first state Youth Congress president to be elected under Rahul Gandhi’s new plan to democratize youth organizations of the Congress.

Another youth leader handpicked by Rahul Gandhi is Sukhwinder Singh Danny for the Faridkot (reserved) seat. Danny is the son of former Punjab minister Sardool Singh.

Akali Dal dissident Sukhdev Singh Libra, who voted in favour of the Manmohan Singh government in the July 2008 vote of confidence in violation of his party’s whip, has been rewarded by the Congress by fielding him from the Fatehgarh Sahib (reserved) constituency.

He will be pitted against the Deputy Speaker of the outgoing Lok Sabha, Charanjit Singh Atwal of the Akali Dal.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

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