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Punjab weaves poll spell on NRI

Jassi is the first NRI to give up his UK citizenship and return to Qila Raipur to contest the polls, reports Pankaj Vohra.

india Updated: Jan 20, 2007 19:56 IST

Jasbir Singh Khangura aka Jassi is a candidate with a difference for the Punjab assembly poll. He has given up his British citizenship to return to his roots and is perhaps the first person of Indian origin, who has decided to try his luck in the ring after 40 years in London.

Jassi is the Congress candidate for the Qila Raipur Assembly segment - the only seat his party has never won since Independence. His mother had contested from the constituency last time, but lost. For Jassi, it is not just homecoming, but kind of paying back to his "hearth" in the footsteps of his family.

"My family has always been committed to the people of this area and has worked extensively in the constituency for the last five years. My father Jaspal Singh has done remarkable work and he would have been a suitable candidate, but the family decided that Jassi, being younger, should be in the fray." Elections and politics run in the family.

Forty-three-year-old Jassi had come very close to becoming an MP in the United Kingdom in 1992. His father had been a councillor in Britain for many years and the family had been working for the West London community.

"My heart is in Qila Raipur and we have a flourishing business in Punjab. After my daughter completes school next year, she will settle down in Punjab, with the rest of us. It is the commitment to Jasbir Singh aka Jassi is the Congress candidate from Qila Raipur Assembly segment, the only seat the party has never won till date."

He has returned after 40 years in the UK serve my people that has brought me back to India, and not everybody gives up British citizenship to plunge into politics in the country of one’s birth.

Jassi, who studied medicine in England for five-and-a-half years, but opted out to join the family business, hopes to hitch his stars to a large NRI contingent from Qila Raipur "to seek their greater participation in village development, social, educational and cultural activity".

"NRIs are a valuable resource for India and we need to do more to encourage their participation in their motherland, be it by investment in equity or industry, charitable, social and educational funding, or by simply being better ambassadors of India. Let us make NRIs feel less like "not required Indians" and more like "newly-returned Indians".

Jassi has launched a campaign in cyberia with a portal to record the views of his constituents and invite suggestions.

Email Pankaj Vohra: pvohra@hindustantimes.com