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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

Senior leaders absent, Cong candidate’s campaign lags

Ravinder Vasudeva , Hindustan Times  Jalandhar, April 16, 2014
First Published: 09:53 IST(16/4/2014) | Last Updated: 09:54 IST(16/4/2014)

After the SAD-BJP campaign in the Jalandhar parliamentary segment gathered momentum with chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and his deputy Sukhbir Badal addressing a series of rallies in favour of the alliance’s candidate Pawan Kumar Tinu, the campaign of his Congress rival Santokh Chaudhary is apparently lagging far behind.

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Even as the Congress had announced Santokh’s candidature on March 25, many local senior leaders are yet to join the campaign, which has been going at a snail’s pace so far.

Former minister and twotime MLA from Jalandhar Cantonment Gurkanwal Kaur, also the daughter of former CM late Beant Singh, PPCC general secretary and former chairman of Jalandhar Improvement Trust Tejinder Bittu; two-time former MLA from Adampur Kamaljeet Singh Lalli and two-time former MLA from Nurmahal Gurwinder Singh Atwal are among the prominent leaders in the region who have been missing from the campaign.

Gurkanwal, who holds a sway in the Cantonment constituency, was denied ticket during the 2012 assembly elections after the party preferred the then sitting SAD MLA Jagbir Brar.

A staunch opponent of Brar, who is looking after the Cantonment constituency presently, Gurkanwal is now giving most of her time in Ludhiana from where her nephew Ravneet Bittu is contesting as a Congress candidate.

When asked about this, she said, “Since many of my party colleagues feel threatened by my presence in Jalandhar, I have decided not to hurt them. As I am looking after Ambika Soni’s campaign in Anandpur Sahib as well, I will not be able to devote much time here.” PPCC general secretary Bittu, a staunch loyalist of Amarinder Singh, has not been seen campaigning for Santokh either. He is busy campaigning for Captain in Amritsar.

“I will try my best to come to Jalandhar. I have told my supporters to work for Santokh,” he said. Former chief parliamentary secretary Kamaljeet Lalli, who has a significant support base in Adampur which he represented twice before 2007 polls when the constituency was not reserved, has also failed to campaign for the Congress nominee wholeheartedly, owing to his alleged differences with the Chaudhary family.
For mer Nur mahal MLA Gurwinder Atwal’s political enmity with the Chaudhary family is well known and hence he has decided not to work for Chaudhary in Jalandhar.

“Perhaps, the Chaudhary family does not want me to work for them. That is why I have decided to work for Ambika Soni in Anandpur Sahib,” said Atwal, who has a strong following in the region due to his straightforward style of working among party workers.

To make the matters worse, none of the state-level leaders, including former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh and PPCC chief Partap Bajwa who himself is contesting, have shown up to address a single rally in the constituency.

On the other hand, the CM and deputy CM have addressed six rallies each for SAD-BJP candidate from the constituency.

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