It won't be a cakewalk for sitting member of Parliament (MP) Ravneet Singh Bittu this time. In 2009, Bittu won by a highest margin of 49,000 votes from SAS Nagar, but residents feel he has ignored SAS Nagar during the first four years of his tenure.
Now, Bittu has a direct contest with Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate Prem Singh Chandumajra from the Anandpur Sahib constituency.
Chandumajra 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.
Punjabi singer KS Makhan is the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)'s candidate from Anandpur Sahib and claims to have a base of around 1 lakh voters in the constituency.
NS Khalsi, president, Resident Welfare Association, Phase 4, said, “We had very high hopes when we elected Bittu in 2009, but had to cut a sorry figure as he ignored our area completely for more than four years. The only thing he did in fag end of his tenure was getting nod for a cancer hospital at Mullanpur (SAS Nagar). Not even a single penny has been spent from the MP lad fund in SAS Nagar and most of the parks, buildings are crying for attention.”
Khuswant Singh Kharbanda, president, Resident Welfare Association, Phase 3B1, said, “He never raised the issue of property tax in Parliament, most of the roads could have been built under the MP lad fund and the demand of having a girls college in SAS Nagar is still pending. He was not accessible for almost for five years and never interacted with residents.”
Denying the allegations, Bittu said, “We have given grants to several communities under the MP lad fund in SAS Nagar. We have brought cancer hospital, several trains have been started and hopeful of making my constituency world-class in coming five years.”
Speaking to HT, SAD candidate Prem Singh Chandumajra said, “It is not common but even the Congress supporters and workers are alleging that Bittu has ignored the constituency completely. He never raised the issue in Parliament. As far as the cancer hospital at Mullanpur is concerned, the land was given by the state government and Punjab chief minister persuaded the case with the central government for the hospital.”
However, Chandumajra has been a loser in his last three elections. In 2007, he lost the assembly polls from Lehragaga; in 2009, from the parliamentary constituency of Patiala, and the 2012 assembly elections from Fatehgarh Sahib.
Bittu has a strong support from Congress MLAs - Balbir Singh Sidhu from SAS Nagar and Jagmohan Singh Kang from Kharar.