An overwhelming response to Ravneet Singh Bittu's candidature from Ludhiana Lok Sabha constituency from the Congress cadres has undoubtedly given a thrust to the election campaign. However, the "united face" of the party received a blow with District Congress president (urban) Pawan Dewan skipping the formal opening of Bittu's office at Sat Paul Mittal Road on Tuesday.
It was Dewan's second consecutive absence from party gathering as he had failed to show up at the office inauguration in Mullanpur Dakha on Monday, leaving senior party leaders and Bittu camp concerned.
It is learnt that a senior Congressman had visited Dewan's house to bring him to the venue on Tuesday, but could not trace him.
Also, the Congress workers close to Dewan, including some block presidents, failed to show up at Tuesday's function.
Citing "extra attention" to MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu as the main cause of Dewan's resentment, a group of Congressmen said in order to get Ashu's support, who secured 69,125 votes in the assembly elections, Bittu and his family had gone an extra mile to pamper him thereby winning his support.
There has been bad blood between Dewan and MLA Ashu as Dewan, who is a close associate of the sitting member of Parliament Manish Tewari, had allegedly tried to harm his interests.
Similarly, MLA Surinder Dawar, too, was unhappy with Dewan for certain reasons.
Before the announcement of Bittu's candidature, it was learnt that Ashu would extend silent support to independent candidate and his good friend Simarjit Singh Bains. However, things underwent a change after Bittu was announced as the Congress candidate as all dissidents, including Ashu were approached by former Congress minister and Bittu's uncle Tej Prakash Singh and his cousin Khanna MLA Gurkirat Singh Kotli.
When contacted, Pawan Dewan said, "I was away to Delhi for some urgent work. Thus, could not attend the inaugural function of Ravneet Singh Bittu's office. As far as inauguration of office in Mullanpur Dakha is concerned, it falls under rural constituency and I am the DCC (urban) president. Moreover, I am with my party, rest all that is being said is baseless."
Ravneet Bittu's address
Addressing the party workers and public on Tuesday, Congress candidate Ravneet Singh Bitu said his aim was to ensure overall development in Ludhiana, including making it pollution free, developing the industry and ensuring basic facilities like health, education, water and sewerage.
"After the Lok Sabha elections, the SAD-BJP alliance would install meters on submersible pumps and taps and would collect water bill from people," Bittu claimed.
He lambasted the SAD-BJP alliance for the adverse policies following which 18,000 industrial units from Ludhiana, Batala and Mandi Gobindgarh had left the state, due to which the government incurred huge revenue loss and many people were rendered jobless and had taken to drugs.
He also accused the ruling alliance of involvement in the drug menace in the state.
He also accused deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal of imposing tax on water, adding that it was unfortunate that Punjab would actually sell water, which was a basic need of people.
DCC (rural) president Malkiat Singh Dakha, former minister Tej Parkash Singh, MLAs Surinder Dawar, Rakesh Pandey, Bharat Bhushan Ashu, former DCC president KK Bawa and various other Congress leaders were present on the occasion.