Friends in real life, ex-babus turn political foes in Fatehgarh Sahib
The Congress on Saturday announced Amar Singh, a former IAS officer of Madhya Pradesh cadre, as its candidate against Shiromani Akali Dal’s Darbara Singh Guru, a former IAS officer of the Punjab cadre.Updated: Apr 08, 2019 08:23 IST
In a first for the Lok Sabha elections in Punjab, the Fatehgarh Sahib reserved seat is set to witness a political slugfest between two former bureaucrats, who happen to be friends in real life.
The Congress on Saturday announced Amar Singh, a former IAS officer of Madhya Pradesh cadre, as its candidate against Shiromani Akali Dal’s Darbara Singh Guru, a former IAS officer of the Punjab cadre.
While two former IAS officers have jumped into the fray, the sitting Fatehgarh Sahib MP, Harinder Singh Khalsa, is also a former IFS officer, but he has opted out of the electoral contest from the seat this time. Khalsa was elected on the Aam Aadmi Party ticket and has now joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. The AAP this time has fielded Baljinder Singh Chaunda from the seat.
Interestingly, both Guru and Amar Singh have several similarities in their professional and political career. Both had served as principal secretary to chief minister, before entering the political field. Amar Singh had served under former Madhya Pradesh CM Digvijaya Singh, while Guru was principal secretary to former Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal.
Another similarity is that, both former IAS officers are yet to taste success on the political turf. Guru has lost Vidhan Sabha elections twice from Bhadaur (Barnala) and Bassi Pathana (Fatehgarh Sahib), while Amar Singh lost from Raikot (Ludhiana).
Guru and Amar Singh are also close friends. After the Congress announced Amar Singh candidature, they wished luck to each other. When Guru as IAS officer would visit Madhya Pradesh for election duty or other official assignment, he always had his food at the residence of Amar Singh.
“Though Bassi Pathana MLA Gurpreet Singh GP, was the first choice, as he had defeated Darbara Guru in 2017 assembly elections, but due to closeness to AICC president Rahul Gandhi, Amar Singh managed the ticket,” said a source.
After losing the election from Raikot in 2017, Amar Singh joined as adviser to local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, only to be removed unceremoniously later.
Currently, Amar Singh is vice-president of Punjab Congress and is active in Fatehgarh Sahib for the last two years. “I am born and brought up here and have personal contact with every constituency in Fatehgarh Sahib. For the last two years, I have resolved many issues of the segment, and do hope that people will support me for my work,” he said.
Akali Dal candidate Darbara Guru, who enjoys the patronage of Badal family, too has already started campaign in the constituency. He said people support him for his honesty and hard work. “I will go to the people with a positive agenda,” he said.
The Fatehgarh Sahib seat has nine assembly segments, three in Fatehgarh Sahib district, four in Ludhiana and one in Sangrur. Most of the constituency is dominated by rural population.