Congress workers and leaders on Saturday gave Lok Sabha candidate Ravneet Singh Bittu a united and grand welcome to his constituency and the public support made his first appearance a hit.
Having waited long for the candidate, the party cadres made it an impressive road show with drumbeats and bhangra. Enthusiastic slogans replaced their sighs on Saturday as they travelled a long stretch of the Chandigarh road in massive motorcades carrying the Congress flag.
It took Bittu more than three hours to go 20 kilometers from the Shiv temple at Chehlan village to Vardhman Chowk, as people poured out to greet him and extend their support. From Samrala to the Chandigarh road, the area does not even fall into the Lok Sabha constituency but the masses went out of their way to felicitate Bittu.
Rebel factor, the undoing of the local Congress in past five years, seemed non-existent. Bittu's uncle, former Congress minister Tej Prakash Singh, and his son, Khanna legislator Gurkirat Singh Kotli, had visited all the dissidents and won them over before the candidate arrived in Ludhiana.
The newfound unity in the party here was apparent by the presence of legislators Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Rakesh Pandey, and Surinder Dawar; district Congress presidents Malkit Singh Dakha (rural) and Pawan Dewan (urban); along with Pappi Prashar and Gurmail Pehelwan, losing contenders from the assembly elections.
Former legislator Jassi Khangura, who had alienated himself from politics after losing to Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate Manpreet Singh Ayali in the assembly elections, not only made an appearance at the road show but also accompanied Bittu aboard his vehicle.
The reputation of a humble politician and the benefit of being the grandson of late chief minister Beant Singh helped Bittu get the support of old loyalists and bring them to the road show. "Sardar Beant Singh was an institution and his grandson has inherited his traits, as he proved in his last term as MP from Anandpur Sahib," said Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) senior leader Swaran Singh. "It is good to have him as candidate from Ludhiana, his home district," he added.
Bittu covered the old city streets of Baba Than Singh Chowk, Division No. 3, Chaura Bazar, Congress office, and Jagraon Bridge before getting into the party office on Sat Paul Mittal Road. Traders, who formed a huge part of the greeting public, garlanded him with currency and recalled the contributions of his grandfather, late chief minister Beant Singh, who had fought terrorism and laid down his life in the end.