Despite loss, Bittu makes it to Modi 3.0 cabinet - Hindustan Times
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Despite loss, Bittu makes it to Modi 3.0 cabinet

By, Chandigarh
Jun 10, 2024 05:36 AM IST

Although the saffron party drew a blank in Punjab in the Lok Sabha elections, the move to induct Bittu as a minister assumes significance as the party seeks to spread its footprint in the state.

Former Ludhiana MP and grandson of former chief minister Beant Singh, Ravneet Singh Bittu, who lost the recently held Lok Sabha polls, was a surprise entry into Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet on Sunday.

BJP leader Ravneet Singh Bittu takes oath as a minister of state during the swearing-in ceremony of the NDA government at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Sunday. (Ajay Aggarwal/ HT)
BJP leader Ravneet Singh Bittu takes oath as a minister of state during the swearing-in ceremony of the NDA government at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Sunday. (Ajay Aggarwal/ HT)

Interestingly, Bittu is the only leader from among those who switched from the Congress to the BJP, just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, to have made it to the council of ministers even though he lost the polls.

Bittu, 49, who will be a minister of state, lost to Congress’ candidate Amarinder Singh Raja Warring by a margin of 20,942 votes.

Bittu, who won the Ludhiana seat twice in 2014 and 2019 by a margin of 19,709 and 76,272 votes, respectively, has also represented the Anandpur Sahib constituency between 2009 and 2014. Bittu being a three-time former MP is a prominent Sikh face and is likely to be elected to Rajya Sabha from one of the BJP-ruled states in the country.

While talking to reporters in Delhi, Bittu thanked the BJP leadership for inducting him as a minister. “Will work for the development of Punjab as well as the BJP in the state so that the party makes the government after the 2027 assembly polls,” Bittu said, adding that “I didn’t want to sit in the opposition benches for the fourth time.”

“The BJP fulfilled my dream and for the party Punjab is a priority whether we win (in elections) or not,” he added.

Bittu added that the BJP wants to see Punjab free of debt and drugs. “The BJP and the NDA government want to bring Punjab back on the right track,” he added.

Although the saffron party drew a blank in Punjab, the move to induct Bittu as a minister assumes significance as the party seeks to spread its footprint in the state.

Despite its candidates losing on all 13 seats, the BJP’s vote share in Punjab shot up to a historic high of 18.56%, almost triple of what the party got in the 2022 assembly polls. The vote share is double when compared to the 9.63% it got in the 2019 LS polls.

“The party, which fought the polls solo for the first time since 1996, has already started planning for the 2027 assembly polls and giving representation to Punjab is a step in this direction,” a state party leader, pleading anonymity, said.

Bittu had left the Congress and joined the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha polls just weeks ahead of the general elections.

A high school passout, Bittu’s closeness with then Union home minister Amit Shah is an open secret. Shah, during a campaign rally for Bittu in Ludhiana, had urged the voters to elect him and in return, the party will make Bittu a “bada aadmi”. “Isse (Bittu) Ludhiana se Delhi ki Sansad mein bhejiye, isko bada aadmi banane ka kaam main karunga (Send him from Ludhiana to Parliament in Delhi, I will make him a big man),” Shah had said in the Ludhiana rally.

In the Lok Sabha polls, Bittu despite winning the assembly segment falling under urban areas lost because Sikh areas voted against the BJP.

Bittu’s grandfather late Beant Singh was assassinated in August 1995 when he was the Punjab chief minister.

Bittu is known for his strong views against pro-Khalistan leaders and had even opposed the demand for the release of Balwant Singh Rajoana, a convict in the assassination case of his grandfather.

Several Sikh bodies have been demanding the release of many Sikh prisoners.

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