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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

Captain Amarinder wins battle, party loses war

Harkirat Singh, Hindustan Times  Amritsar, May 18, 2014
First Published: 10:55 IST(18/5/2014) | Last Updated: 13:22 IST(18/5/2014)

Did Capt Amarinder Singh’s contesting from Amritsar affect the prospects of his party in the other Lok Sabha constituencies? His preoccupation cost the Congress a star campaigner in Punjab.

Former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal was the only other from the state on the Congress high-command list of 50 main campaigners.

Captain and she were expected to canvass in their home state as well as Punjabi and Sikh pockets of Delhi, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu region, and Rajasthan.

When Amarinder’s name came up for the Amritsar seat, he told his party boss, Sonia Gandhi, that he would be more helpful to the party as a campaigner.

He also referred to his wife and former central minister, Preneet Kaur, who was contesting from Patiala.

However, Sonia was firm that the former chief minister was the man to take on Bharatiya Janata Party stalwart Arun Jaitley. Amarinder was left with no choice. With a opponent such as Jaitley, he would have to remain glued to Amritsar, if he was to win.

On April 28, he entered the city with a road show and returned to Patiala for two days. All April, he was stuck up in Amritsar, barring the day he was in Patiala by the side of his wife during her filing of nomination.

The same day, he campaigned for Ambika Soni in Anandpur Sahib, and the next day, was back in Amritsar by road after his rented helicopter developed a snag.

In spite of campaigning requests from outside, he could not leave Amritsar, not even to neighbouring Khadoor Sahib to support Harminder Singh Gill.

Of course, there was no question of his going to Gurdaspur for Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa or the bête noire’s requesting it.

Considering the narrow margins of defeat in Patiala, Ferozepur, Anandpur Sahib, and Bhatinda, Amarinder could have made the difference, particularly in his wife’s constituency.

A day after his victory from the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh thanked his BJP rival Arun Jaitley and renowned eye surgeon and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate, Dr Daljeet Singh, for acknowledging his victory.

He also hoped to work with his two electoral opponents for the betterment of the Amritsar constituency in particular and Punjab in general.

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