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Greenhorn no more

chandigarh Updated: Feb 24, 2014 01:29 IST
Gurpreet Singh Nibber

A protégé of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and grandson of late Punjab chief minister Beant Singh, Anandpur Sahib MP Ravneet Singh Bittu has not left his constituency for the past six months.

The 1975-born Bittu, who was accused of not attending to his constituency during the first three years of his tenure, is making amends now in his bid to get the Congress ticket again.

Handpicked by Rahul, Bittu became the president of the Punjab Youth Congress (PYC) in December 2008. A few months later, he was elected MP. Since he was unable to give adequate time to his constituency, he was told to give up the post of the PYC chief in June 2011.

Bittu claims to have brought trains for different Takhts (temporal seats) of Sikhs and getting the nod for a cancer hospital in Mullanpur (SAS Nagar), but his promise of a university named after Guru Gobind Singh remains unfulfilled.

Senior Congress leaders from his constituency, including Jagmohan Singh Kang, Rana KP Singh, Charanjeet Singh Channy, Balbir Singh Sidhu, Iqbal Kaur, Tarlochan Singh Soondh, Lov Kumar Goldy and Ramesh Dutt Sharma, have come out in Bittu’s support and are seen accompanying him during public meetings.

Most of them, including Rana KP, who used to call Bittu a greenhorn, have accepted him as the best bet from Anandpur Sahib parliamentary constituency. “He is emerging strong and would again win if the party nominates him for the Lok Sabha polls,” said Kharar MLA Jagmohan Kang.

Bittu has won over senior leaders with his personal touch and political acumen inherited from his grandfather, besides his proximity to the Gandhi family. Of late, he has reached out to various factions of the Punjab Congress, including those led by former chief ministers Capt Amarinder Singh and Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. He may have missed attendance in his constituency in the initial years, but the 1,500-km padayatra in 2010, aimed at spreading awareness about drug menace, earned him popularity.

Ravneet Bittu, Congress MP

Unprotected farmlands

A large portion of his constituency, falling in the backward sub-mountainous kandi belt, lacks basic health and education facilities.

Also, irrigation facilities are not inadequate and most of the agriculture is rain-fed. Areas adjacent to Swan river, which flows into Punjab from Himachal Pradesh, causes floods repeatedly. Channelisation of the river is a long-pending demand of area residents. The crops in the sub-mountainous belt suffer frequent damage because of attacks from wild animals such as the wild boar and blue bull. Bittu has been asking farmers to protect their farms with barbed wire, but there is no government scheme or availability of funds to protect farmlands.

Easy opponent?

With the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) having declared Prem Singh Chandumajra as its candidate from the constituency, Bittu is eyeing another election victory. Chandumajra has been a loser in his last three elections. In 2007, he lost the assembly polls from Lehragaga, the parliamentary elections from Patiala in 2009, and the 2012 assembly elections from Fatehgarh Sahib.

Chandumajra consider himself best suited for Anandpur Sahib because he claims he has been living and working in the constituency for the past 35 years, while calling Bittu a “seasonal bird” who only visits the area during the elections.

With inputs from Bahadurjeet Singh

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