Grandson invokes Beant Singh legacy

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Ravneet Singh Bittu
Ravneet Singh Bittu

The legacy of former Chief Minister Beant Singh is pitted against claims of a Narendra Modi ‘wave’ as the Congress and the BJP lock horns for this seat although the presence of the AAP and an Independent MLA in the fray may shake up the contest here.

With sitting MP Manish Tewari deciding against fighting this time due to health reasons, the Congress has fielded sitting Anandpur Sahib MP Ravneet Singh Bittu, who is the grandson of Beant Singh, the former Chief Minister who was assassinated by extremists in 1995.

The ruling SAD-BJP alliance has fielded Manpreet Singh Ayali for the seat and is relying on his popular image here.

Although there are a total of 22 candidates in the fray, apart from Mr. Bittu and Mr. Ayali, only Simarjit Singh Bains and the Aam Aadmi Party nominee, H. S. Phoolka, are being seen as the other serious challengers for the seat.

But poll observers say that the contest is likely to be a straight race between Mr. Bittu and Mr. Ayali.

The soft-spoken, 39-year-old Mr. Ayali, who is the present MLA of Dakha, is a formidable opponent for Mr. Bittu as he is said to enjoy a good standing with the locals here and had also been the chairman of the Ludhiana Zila Parishad for five years.

During that stint, he won a commendation from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself for making a crucial contribution towards the rural sanitation programme and rural water supply system here. As Mr. Ayali banks on his performance and also on the ‘Modi wave’ for success here, Mr. Bittu would be hoping for a repeat of 2009 for the Congress when Mr. Tewari beat his SAD-BJP rival Gurcharan Singh Ghalib by a margin of over 1 lakh votes.

Even though Mr. Bittu (38) was a bit late in hitting the poll trail here, he is trying his best to capitalise on the legacy of his slain grandfather.

Rivals, however, charge that Beant Singh’s legacy has already been much exploited by his family with elder son Tej Prakash Singh and daughter Gurkanwal Kaur both having become Ministers while grandson Gurkirat Singh Kotli was elected the Khanna MLA.

This industrial town, which is going to polls on April 30, has more than 15 lakh voters, of which 2.5 lakh are workers in various industries. — PTI



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