Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Congress candidate Preneet Kaur faces litmus test in Patiala after 2014 poll debacle
Having faced defeat at the hands of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Dr Dharamvira Gandhi in 2014, former Union minister and Congress candidate from the Patiala Lok Sabha constituency, Preneet Kaur, is facing a litmus test this time on the seat that is all set for a triangular contest.
Traditionally, the segment would see the Congress and the Akali Dal slugging it out, but political greenhorn Gandhi in 2014 made the fight three-cornered and handed out Preneet the first defeat of her political career and that too from the bastion of her husband and now Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh. She was elected MP from Patiala in 1999, 2004 and 2009.
This time too, MP Gandhi, who after revolting against AAP floated an outfit, Nawan Punjab Party, is in the race with a large number of volunteers of his erstwhile party having joined him. Apart from the SAD-BJP coalition being at the helm in Punjab in 2014, what went against was the baggage of a scam-hit UPA government.
Also, Amarinder could not campaign for her as he himself was contesting from Amritsar where he was facing BJP heavyweight Arun Jaitley who eventually lost.
In the Congress rank and file, Preneet is popular as she is more accessible than her husband and has been active in the segment. Moreover, she inaugurated over Rs 500 crore projects after the Congress formed government in March 2017.
Despite this, this election will not be easy for her as Dr Gandhi is still seen as popular while SAD candidate and former minister Surjit Singh Rakhra has a firm grip on rural vote bank. Besides having a stronghold in all eight assembly segments of Patiala district, SAD is on a strong footing in Dera Bassi, where NK Sharma has won three consecutive assembly polls. In 2014, Preneet trailed by a margin of 47,000 votes from Dera Bassi alone.
Dr Gandhi said, “Earlier, the Congress and SAD played a fixed match in Patiala and Bathinda. People now have option. She (Preneet) will have tell the people what she did for the segment during her three tenures as MP.”
Preneet said, “The Congress will not only win from Patiala, but on all in Punjab as SAD and AAP are in disarray.”