Two out of Six: Rahul’s chosen ones return moderate score
Only two of the total six candidates selected by the Congress on recommendations of AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi could post victory while two lost by narrow margins in the Punjab assembly polls.
While Kuljit Singh Nagra (45), a former student leader defeated his formidable Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) rival Prem Singh Chandumajra from Fatehgarh Sahib, Amarinder Singh Raja Warring snatched victory from none other than senior Akali leader Sant Singh Brar from Gidderbaha constituency.
It is interesting to note that People’s Party of Punjab president Manpreet Singh Badal also contested from Gidderbaha and managed to come third. Manpreet has won Gidderbaha seat four times, which his uncle and Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal passed on to him in 1995.
Nagra defeated Chandumajra, general secretary of SAD, by 3,534 votes. Akali rebel Ajaib Singh Bhatti, a sitting SAD MLA who contested as independent from Fatehgarh Sahib after he was denied the ticket, also posed a challenge to Nagra but only to come third.
Rahul picked up the only woman candidate Satkar Kaur (30) for Ferozepur (rural) reserve constituency. However, she lost to Joginder Singh alias Jindu of the SAD by merely 107 votes.
While SAD candidate polled 61,772 votes, Satkar Kaur got 61,665 votes.
Lakhvir Singh Lakha (33), in fray for Payal reserve seat, however managed to give a tough fight to senior Akali leader and former Lok Sabha deputy speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal and lost by merely 634 votes.
Rajwinder Singh Lucky (32) was chosen for Balachaur reserve seat that is considered an Akali citadel. Lucky came third while SAD old warhorse Nand Lal won over his BSP rival.
Shailenderjit Singh Shelly (36) was shortlisted for the Majitha seat to take on SAD’s general secretary and sitting MLA Bikram Singh Majithia, brother-in-law of SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal. Shelly also failed to make an impact and was third.
Unlike the Lok Sabha polls in 2009 when Rahul Gandhi handpicked all three candidates from political families -- Vijayinder Singla from Sangrur, Sukhwinder Singh Danny from Faridkot and Ravneet Singh Bittu from Anandpur Sahib -- this time all the candidates were from humble and non- political backgrounds.
While Lucky is a son of a retired agricultural office, Satkar is the daughter of a retired teacher. Similarly Nagra, Raja and Shelly are from humble family backgrounds.
All six were working in close association with Rahul when he had initiated the youth wing enrolment drive. None of them has leanings towards either camps led by PPCC chief Capt Amarinder Singh and CLP leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal or any other group withtin the party.
In fact when Amarinder and Bhattal and other senior leaders of the party opposed their candidature on flimsy grounds and tried to push their own candidates, but were snubbed by party high command.