Amarinder, who had expressed both his unwillingness and inability to contest elections to the party citing reasons of concentrating on Patiala, the constituency of his three-time MP wife Preneet Kaur and canvassing across the state, had relented from his earlier defiant stand on Thursday, stating that he would contest if the Congress president asked him to do so. Today, when asked by Sonia to do so, he agreed making Amritsar one of the most hotly contested seats of the country.
Earlier, called to Delhi on Wednesday by Congress president Sonia Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel, Amarinder had conveyed his inability to contest the polls. Among the many reasons he cited was that his presence was needed in Patiala, where his union minister wife Preneet Kaur was "facing strong anti-incumbency" as a three-time MP, a hostile state government and a three-cornered contest from the Aam Aadmi Party. He also argued that he was interested in the state and not in central politics.
The Amritsar candidature being seen by the Amarinder camp as an attempt by Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa to corner him into a contest after he himself could not escape a contest from Gurdaspur, a defiant Amarinder, in a statement on Thursday, had made his reluctance public.
"I would not be able to do justice to the people of Amritsar. Congress president Sonia Gandhi had offered me to contest from Bathinda or Amritsar. I had clarified at that time only that I would not be in a position to contest since Preneet is contesting from Patiala. Moreover, my presence is required across the state and contesting from Amritsar would confine me to a single constituency. If elected, I would not be able to do justice to the people there as compared to a local candidate," he had said.