A day after Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa said he would leave it to former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh to recommend the party candidate for the Patiala Urban byelection, the latter’s brother Malwinder Singh on Monday expressed reservations over fielding former MP Preneet Kaur, who is among the probables.
Citing that there is still a strong anti-UPA and anti-SAD-BJP sentiment in Punjab, Malwinder told HT, “Preneet was part of the Congress-led UPA government for 10 years. She carries the baggage of the government’s ill-reputation. It would be disastrous if the party fields her. The Congress should field a new face to overcome the public anger against the UPA.”
Malwinder said: “Preneet was defeated in the Lok Sabha polls on her home turf (Patiala) by Dr Dharmvira Gandhi, a political greenhorn, because of her UPA tag. In contrast, Amarinder won convincingly from Amritsar because he was not considered part of the UPA team.”
Malwinder’s differences with his sister-in-law Preneet had surfaced when she decided to field her son, Raninder Singh, in the 2012 assembly elections from Samana, even though the former was a ticket aspirant. He had then left the Congress to join the Shiromani Akali Dal and had even canvassed against Raninder.
Earlier this year, when Amarinder got the Congress ticket from the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, he rejoined the party. However, he didn’t canvass in Patiala for Preneet, but instead camped in Amritsar during campaigning for his elder brother.
Malwinder, however, said he would not formally seek the party ticket this time. “I will abide by the decision of my brother, who has been in politics for the past 45 years and knows what is right and wrong.”
“However, if Amarinder seeks my suggestion, I will tell me to prefer a new face. Otherwise, the Aam Aadmi Party will again make the most of the anti-Congress anti-SAD-BJP sentiment,” he added.
The Patiala Urban seat fell vacant after Amarinder was elected to the Lok Sabha from Amritsar.