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Friday, Oct 18, 2019

Ludhiana Lok Sabha seat: Traditional ‘Congress vs Akali Dal’ battleground set for three-way contest

In 2014, Congress candidate Ravneet Singh Bittu won the election from the Ludhiana Lok Sabha constituency, defeating Aam Aadmi Party’s HS Phoolka.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Feb 27, 2019 15:16 IST
Aneesha Sareen Kumar
Aneesha Sareen Kumar
Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
Ravneet Singh Bittu of Congress is the Member of Parliament from Ludhiana Lok Sabha constituency.
Ravneet Singh Bittu of Congress is the Member of Parliament from Ludhiana Lok Sabha constituency. (HT File Photo )

The Ludhiana Lok Sabha constituency, a seat that saw a four-cornered contest in 2014, appears set for a triangular show in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Traditionally a Congress stronghold, Ludhiana Lok Sabha seat has always seen a keen contest, mostly between the Congress and the Akali Dal.

In 2014, however, Congress candidate Ravneet Singh Bittu won the elections, defeating Aam Aadmi Party’s HS Phoolka, while Akali Dal’s Manpreet Singh Ayali and independent Simarjeet Singh Bains stood third and fourth, respectively. Phoolka has quit active politics since and AAP lacks a prominent face this time.

Bains, who had secured over 2-lakh votes in 2014 parliamentary polls, has formed Lok Insaaf Party and is an MLA from Atam Nagar. He has joined hands with the Punjab Democratic Alliance (PDA) that includes Sukhpal Khaira’s Punjabi Ekta Party, Ranjit Singh Brahmpura-led Shiromani Akali Dal (Taksali) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

Insiders say that two-time MLA from Atam Nagar constituency, Bains will throw the hat in the ring and contest the Lo k Sabha polls .“Bains has always been very ambitious. He’s PDA’s sure shot candidate from Ludhiana,” said a political leader on request of anonymity. Bains, however, didn’t share his plans, saying, “I will do what my party asks me to.”

Sitting MP Ravneet Singh Bittu, the grandson of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh, has become active in the constituency as the polls are approaching and is attending public functions on a daily basis. He is counting on the works done during his five-year tenure.

Bittu, as a Congress insider revealed, is relaxed over the party ticket after his rival, former MP Manish Tewari, applied for the ticket from Chandigarh. Bittu loyalists are hopeful of the party ticket. However, Tewari loyalists have also been suggesting that party chief Rahul Gandhi is keen on fielding a Hindu face from Ludhiana.

A section in the Congress feels that in case Tewari fails to get the Congress ticket from Chandigarh, Ludhiana will be his second choice. Bittu, on the other hand, says he wouldn’t contest from any seat other than Ludhiana.

The Shiromani Akali Dal most likely will field former adviser to the chief minister and senior leader Maheshinder Singh Grewal. “If the party wants to field me, then why not?” said Grewal, who has also become active at public events.

Sources said Sahnewal MLA Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, who is close to former CM Parkash Singh Badal and has represented the seat in the past, could also be a formidable candidate. Dhillon, however, said he is happy being an MLA.

Speculations are rife that SAD and BJP may swap Ludhiana and Amritsar segments this time. In case the seat goes to the BJP, the party will have to look for a suitable candidate.

From AAP, district president Daljit Singh Grewal is in the race for the ticket. In 2014, AAP candidate HS Phoolka had secured over 2.6-lakh votes and he was next only to winner Ravneet Singh Bittu.

First Published: Feb 27, 2019 15:16 IST

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