A decade and life has come full circle for Raj Kumar Gupta. The Congress gave him the ticket to fight from the Hindu-dominated Jalandhar North constituency on Friday in place of Tejinder Bittu, whom it had declared as candidate only a day earlier.
In 2007, Gupta was an MLA from Jalandhar Central and Bittu, the then Jalandhar Improvement Trust chairman, got the ticket thanks to his proximity to state party leader Capt Amarinder Singh. At that time, Gupta was the only sitting Congress MLA to be denied the ticket. In 2012, he was given the Jalandhar Central ticket but it was cancelled at the last moment to be given to Rajinder Beri, who lost by a narrow margin because the trader community was upset with the Congress decision.
Party sources say the disrespect to Gupta, who belongs to the community, cost the Congress dear in Jalandhar. Bittu’s ticket, they say, was given to Gupta this time in view of the resentment in the local unit. Ten Jalandhar councillors resigned to protest the ticket to Bittu, an urban Sikh candidate. Gupta lodged a protest with Amarinder and conveyed the anger of the trader community.
On his part, Bittu has fallen in line, saying he respects the high command’s decision. Bittu was given the ticket because of his influence with Priyanka Gandhi’s family.