Mohinder Singh Kaypee, first-time MP from Jalandhar, may not find it easy to repeat his success in the Lok Sabha polls owing to sharp divisions within local Congress groups.
A prominent Dalit leader of the Doaba region, he has a rich political legacy. His father, Darshan Singh Kaypee, was a five-time MLA from Jalandhar who was gunned down by militants in 1992. By that time, Kaypee had already been elected twice as a legislator.
In 2007, when the Congress had lost the assembly elections to the SAD-BJP alliance, the high command decided to appoint Kaypee as the working president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC). In 2008, he was elevated to the full-fledged PPCC chief’s post, which he held till October 2010.
Kaypee claims that it was under his leadership in 2009 that the Congress managed to win eight of the 13 parliamentary seats in Punjab, including Jalandhar, which was declared a reserved constituency after the delimitation exercise.
Kaypee had defeated popular Punjabi singer and Punjab’s ‘Raj Gayak’ Hans Raj Hans, who was contesting on the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) ticket, by a margin of 36,445 votes.
Though many people from his constituency regard Kaypee as a humble politician, there are others who accuse him of lack of aggression to take on the SAD-BJP combine.
In the 2012 assembly polls, when the Congress was humiliated by the SAD-BJP alliance, Kaypee failed to win any seat for his party from the nine assembly segments under his parliamentary seat. His wife, Suman Kaypee, was among the losers.
It was shocking for the Congress to have been routed from Jalandhar, which has largely been a stronghold of the party, especially due to the concentration of Dalit voters.
Chaudhary Manjinder Singh, former district Congress president and son of late Chaudhary Darshan Singh, claims that Kaypee has been doing a good job and should win the Lok Sabha poll again, but SAD leaders from Jalandhar disagree with him.
Akali MLA from Jalandhar cantonment Pargat Singh says Kaypee has failed to bring even a single meaningful project to the parliamentary constituency during his tenure as MP.
“During my around two-year term so far, I have already been successful in bringing nearly `125 crore for various development works in my constituency. But if we look at roads, streetlights, water, sanitation and other infrastructure in Jalandhar, everything appears to be in a pathetic state,” said the former Indian hockey captain.
Chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) and Akali MLA from Adampur Pawan Kumar Tinu claims that Kaypee cannot list any project brought from the Centre.
“I doubt if he has been able to utilise the entire money he had received under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) fund from the union government. He was hardly even seen in his constituency. A majority of the voters complained that most of the time he was in Delhi or elsewhere,” said Tinu, who is now being seen as a strong contender for the SAD ticket from the Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat.
Tinu said he had never seen Kaypee raising any important issue pertaining to Jalandhar or Dalits in Parliament.
Foes within Congress
PPCC secretary Anil Dutta has already shot off two letters to the party high command in Delhi, asking them not to field Kaypee from Jalandhar due to his “poor performance”. Dutta, in his letter, suggested that Kaypee should rather be shifted to the Hoshiarpur parliamentary seat, also a reserved constituency, if the party wants to retain the Jalandhar seat.
Other senior leaders from Doaba, such as Amarjit Singh Samra, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh and Chaudhary Santokh Singh, are also not in favour of Kaypee being given a second chance from Jalandhar.
However, block Congress president Raj Kumar Raju said four of the eight block presidents had already written to the party high command in favour of Kaypee. “Moreover, there is not much in the hands of Kaypee, especially when the SAD-BJP government has been largely hostile to any development programme initiated by the MP,” added Raju.
Part 7 of 34:
Pawan Kumar Bansal, chandigarh