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HindustanTimes Tue,30 Sep 2014

Cong wants Amarinder to take on Jaitley in Amritsar

Vishal Rambani, Hindustan Times  Patiala, March 20, 2014
First Published: 07:41 IST(20/3/2014) | Last Updated: 13:03 IST(20/3/2014)

The top Congress leadership may be keen on fielding Capt Amarinder Singh against Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley from Amritsar, but the former Punjab chief minister is not willing to oblige.

On Wednesday, Ahmed Patel, Congress president Sonia Gandhi's political secretary, called Amarinder to Delhi for an unscheduled meeting and formally sounded him out on the party’s wish to nominate him from Amritsar.

Amarinder asked Patel to convey to Gandhi that he was not interested in fighting from anywhere, according to a source privy to developments in the party around the Amritsar ticket.

The former CM reportedly told Patel he would like to focus on Patiala, where his wife and three-time MP Preneet Kaur is defending the seat widely seen as a family bastion.

He offered to campaign for Congress candidates in Punjab and elsewhere.

“I am not fighting from anywhere,” Amarinder told HT over phone from Delhi, confirming his late evening meeting with Patel.

He said the Congress chief had offered him a ticket from Bathinda or Amritsar three weeks ago, but he declined, saying he would not like his family to contest from two seats in Punjab.

Amarinder told the party chief he did not “know the streets and villages of Amritsar”.

The Congress leadership, especially vice-president Rahul Gandhi, is believed to have pushed for fielding Amarinder from Amritsar after brushing aside reluctance of state Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa and union minister Manish Tewari to contest again from their seats, Gurdaspur and Ludhiana.

Congress leaders have dismissed talk of Bajwa and Tewari not being keen on defending their seats.

The buzz in political circles is Bajwa pressed the party’s top leadership to field Amarinder against Jaitley, who is making his Lok Sabha poll debut.


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