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Punjab Polls: Revolt hits Congress over 3 Ludhiana tickets; four-time MLA files to fight as Independent

Ignoring four-time MLA Amrik Singh Dhillon, the party has given the ticket to Rupinder Singh Raja Gill, a real-estate baron and commission agent from Khanna.

Amrik Dhillon and Satwinder BittiAmrik Dhillon and Satwinder Bitti (file photo)

Revolt has hit three rural seats of Ludhiana – Samrala, Sahnewal and Jagraon – after the Congress released its second list of candidates for Punjab polls Tuesday.

Ticket aspirants and local Congress leaders from three seats, including a sitting MLA, are opposing the candidates announced by the party.

Four-time sitting MLA of Congress from Samrala, Amrik Singh Dhillon (79), has announced he will contest as an Independent after being denied the ticket.

Punjabi singer Satwinder Bitti has also announced that she will contest with or without the ticket from Sahnewal, after the party decided to field Vikram Bajwa, son-in-law of former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

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From the Jagraon reserved seat, the Congress has given the ticket to sitting Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Jagtar Singh Jagga Hissowal, who recently defected to the grand old party, and the decision is being opposed by the local Congress cadre led by former minister Malkit Singh Dakha.

Samrala: Four-time MLA to contest as Independent

Ignoring four-time MLA Amrik Singh Dhillon, the party has given the ticket to Rupinder Singh Raja Gill, a real-estate baron and commission agent from Khanna. He is the son of former minister late Karam Gill and a relative of Khanna MLA Gurkirat Kotli, grandson of former Punjab chief minister late Beant Singh.

Dhillon, who won from Samrala four of five times he contested, was seeking a ticket for his grandson, Karanvir Singh Dhillon (31), this time. Speaking to indianexpress.com, MLA Dhillon said that he has decided to contest as an Independent. “No reason has been given as to why my family has been denied the ticket. Now after talking to our supporters, I have decided to contest as an Independent. I wanted to field my grandson this time but the party has betrayed us. Not a single ticket has been given to our family despite the fact that I won the Samrala seat for the Congress four times. Some people who have money have been given preference by the party.”

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His grandson, Karanvir Singh Dhillon, said, “A few days ago, Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi also addressed a massive rally in our favour. We do not know where things went wrong. No reason was specified for the denial of ticket. My grandfather will now contest as an Independent.”

Amrik Singh Dhillon won from Samrala in 1997, 2002, 2012 and 2017. He will file his nomination papers as an Independent candidate from Samrala Thursday.

Contesting the ‘outsider’ tag, Raja Gill, who was vying for ticket from Sahnewal but has been given from Samrala instead, said, “My father was a one-time MLA from Samrala. I wanted a ticket from Sahnewal but the party decided I was a better fit for Samrala. I have also got a new house in the constituency and will shift there soon. I am not an outsider.”

Sahnewal: ‘One family, two tickets. How?’ 

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Punjabi singer Satwinder Bitti has announced she will contest ‘on her own’ after the party gave the ticket to Vikram Bajwa, son-in-law of former CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. Bitti had faced defeat from Sahnewal against SAD’s Sharanjit Singh Dhillon in 2017. Bajwa, too, was defeated by Dhillon in 2012 from Sahnewal.

A few days ago, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Navjot Singh Sidhu had also addressed a rally in Bitti’s favour. She has now accused the party leadership of succumbing to Bhattal’s pressure. “Betiyaan naal dhokha hoya hai (Daughters have been cheated). Now it looks like the Congress leadership wants to help Akalis and make their candidate win from Sahnewal. It is due to Bhattal’s pressure that her family has been given not one but two tickets. How? Can the party high command explain? She is the party candidate from Lehra (Sangrur) and now her son-in-law, who has no connection with Sahnewal, has been given a ticket from here. Forced by the circumstances, I have to contest on my own. One thing is sure, I will contest no matter what.”

Bitti said that she and her husband left the US ahead of the 2017 Punjab polls because she wanted to “serve people of Punjab”. “After losing in 2017 by merely 4,500 votes, I worked on the ground for five years, connected with people and today this is what the party has given me in return. I live in Koom Khurd village in my constituency but an outsider has been given the ticket.”

Jagraon: Sitting AAP MLA gets Congress ticket; faces opposition 

Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) sitting Raikot MLA Jagtar Singh Jagga Hissowal, who had recently shifted to the Congress, has been given ticket from Jagraon (reserved).

Former minister Malkit Singh Dakha, a loyalist of Beant Singh and party candidate from Jagraon in 2017, said that he would announce his next step Thursday after a meeting of local Congress leaders and workers.

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Asserting that ‘taksali dyed-in-wool Congress leaders who worked for the party during terrorism era have been ignored’, Dakha said, “We would not have objected had the ticket been given to anyone from the Congress but how can you prefer sitting AAP MLA over local leaders. Even in 2017, I was given the ticket from Jagraon at the last minute, still I did not refuse to contest. I worked with former CM late Beant Singh for over 40 years and we gave our entire life for the Congress. It seems they have not consulted MP Ravneet Singh Bittu (grandson of Beant Singh) even once before allotting tickets. Taksali Congress leaders who worked for the party during terrorism era are being ignored. The Congress cannot win more seats by ignoring its veterans. I will announce my next step tomorrow.”

In 2017 also, Dakha was announced as Jagraon candidate replacing ‘outsider’ Geja Ram after the Congress rectified the list. Dakha lost by more than 25,000 votes to AAP’s Saravjit Kaur Manuke, a school teacher.

First published on: 26-01-2022 at 09:37:48 pm
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