In a break from the tradition of only the relatives of big leaders usually making it to the top ranks of the Youth Congress, a grassroots worker has become its state president.
Amarpreet Singh Lalli was declared elected on Tuesday, in this internal-democracy experiment pushed by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and based on the US primaries. Hailing from Hoshiarpur, Lalli, who is in his thirties, had the backing of Congress deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Captain Amarinder Singh and senior party leader Ambika Soni.
The first elected head of this youth body in Punjab was Ravneet Singh Bittu, grandson of former chief minister Beant Singh, followed by Vikramjit Chaudhary, son of Jalandhar MP Santokh Chaudhary. Lalli succeeds Vikramjit for three-year tenure. He got into politics while doing his graduation at Punjab University, Chandigarh, and went on to become the district Youth Congress president in 2008.
In the result declared on Tuesday, Lalli won by 1,622 votes. He received 4,457 mandates against 2,825 that went to his nearest rival, Kulbir Singh Zira, son of former state minister Inderjit Zira. Lalli described the result as "the victory of Rahul Gandhi's belief in internal democracy". "It is also the victory of common man. I thank Rahul and Ambika Soni for allowing a common worker like me a level playing field to compete," he said.
Born in 1982 in Kot Fatuhi village of this district, he lost his father, Paramjit Singh, in childhood. His mother, Balvinder Kaur, is a retired academician and sister of Punjabi writer Gulzar Sandhu.
Sources in the party say that Lalli was handpicked by then PYC president Vijay Inder Singla to head the district unit. After that, he made right connections, came close to senior Congress leader Ambika Soni (who has close association with Hoshiarpur) and never looked back.