Putting an end to speculation over his candidature due to ill-health, union information and broadcasting minister and sitting MP Manish Tewari is all set to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Ludhiana.
Highly-placed sources in the Congress said that having got the go-ahead from his doctors, Tewari would reach here on Saturday to resume his campaign, which was disrupted for almost a month.
According to sources, Tewari was interested in contesting from Chandigarh as he was worried about dissidence in the Ludhiana unit of the party. Of late, some dissidents, including sitting MLAs, had boycotted all functions/programmes organised by Tewari. But sitting MP Pawan Kumar Bansal’s renomination from Chandigarh upset his plans, while his cardiac problem added to his dilemma. However, the dissidents were called to Delhi by the party high command and warned against opposing the party candidate.
Though party leaders in Tewari’s camp had cited his illness for his apparent reluctance to contest from Ludhiana, another group believed that he was trying to opt out.
A group of more than 20 Congressmen, including Ludhiana district Congress president (urban) Pawan Dewan, district Congress president (rural) Malkir Singh Dakha and former district Congress president KK Bawa, met Tewari at his house in Delhi on Monday and claimed to have convinced him to contest the elections.
“We also called up senior party leaders in Delhi and told them that Tewari was the only choice,” said Bawa.
Speaking to Hindustan Times recently, sitting Congress MLAs, including Bharat Bhushan Ashu ( Ludhiana West), Surinder Dawar ( Ludhiana Central) and Rakesh Pandey (Ludhiana North), had pledged their unequivocal support to Tewari.
According to political experts, Tewari stands a good chance of doing an encore as he is the lone Hindu face in the four-cornered contest. The other three major candidates Shiromani Akali Dal’s Manpreet Singh Ayali, Aam Aadmi Party’s HS Phoolka and independent candidate Simarjit Singh Bains – are Sikhs, and division of the community’s votes between the three is being seen as a distinct possibility.
Meanwhile, Congress general secretary Shakeel Ahmad said in New Delhi, “If he (Tewari) is physically fit, I do not think there is any reason why he would not contest,” Seeking to play down speculation that Tewari wasn’t keen on fighting the polls from Ludhiana, another senior leader said that at “no point of time” had Tewari refused to contest.