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Jalandhar was his adopted hometown, poll battlefield

punjab Updated: Dec 01, 2012 00:03 IST
Jasdeep Singh Malhotra

Inder Kumar Gujral was born at Jhelum in pre-Partition Punjab, but he always considered Jalandhar as his hometown. It was this city in which his father Avtar Narain Gujral and mother Pushpa Gujral settled down after Partition.

No wonder, it took IK Gujral just two days to decide on contesting his first Lok Sabha elections from Jalandhar in 1989. His mother was a former city councillor and it was easy for his strategy-makers Deepak Jalandhari, Narinder Mehta and Om Parkash Khemkarni to link him with the city.

"After getting independent survey reports in his favour, Gujral landed in Jalandhar and submitted his nomination papers along with about 100 supporters. Then he returned to Delhi while assuring his supporters to come back for campaigning after five days. I was made the campaign incharge, while Mehta was the election agent," Jalandhari recalled.

Since Parkash Singh Badal was in jail at that time, his wife Surinder Kaur met Gujral to extend the support of the Shiromani Akali Dal. Poll strategists cashed in on the success of mega TV serial Mahabharat to popularise the Janata Dal's election symbol, 'Chakra' (wheel).

Gujral won on the Janata Dal ticket to enter the ninth Lok Sabha and was appointed external affairs ministers in the VP Singh government.

Though Gujral eventually shifted his base to Delhi, he kept visiting Jalandhar to meet his parents. During his stint as the information and broadcasting minister, he was instrumental in the setting up of Doordarshan Kendra at Jalandhar in 1975. The Gujral family set up Nari Niketan for the welfare of needy women and abandoned children. A school in his father's memory was also established.

Gujral again contested from the Lok Sabha seat in 1998 as the Prime Minister and won by a huge margin of more than 1.3 lakh votes, defeating Congress candidate Umrao Singh.

Main city projects to his credit

*Adopting construction of Domoria railway overbridge as central government project
*Construction of flyover at Rama Mandi railway crossing
*Construction of Virsa Vihar for cultural promotion
*Construction of Sardar Sawarn Singh non-renewable energy institute
*Sanctioning of Rs 25 crores for Punjab Institute of Medical Sciences