Speculation was rife that Capt Amarinder Singh, a known Akali Dal and BJP baiter, would be fielded against Arun Jaitley in Amritsar which was earlier represented by cricketer turned politician, Navjot Singh Sidhu. Sidhu was reportedly denied ticket in view of his poor equation with senior NDA leader and Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal. The Congress was on the lookout for a formidable candidate against Jaitley, who is contesting his maiden Lok Sabha election from Amritsar.
Congress party sources told here today that Capt Singh is expected to meet senior Congress leaders in Delhi today. It was also learnt that the Union I&B Minister Manish Tewari, who had been hospitalised following a heart ailment, has also given indications that he would be ready to contest the elections. There was speculation that he may opt out of the electoral race given his health condition.
Capt Amarinder Singh said that he would not have been able to do justice to the people of Amritsar as their MP for multiple reasons, besides not being able to contest from there at the first instance.
In a statement issued here today Capt Amarinder said, about three weeks ago when he had met the Congress President Ms Sonia Gandhi, she had offered him to contest from Bathinda or Amritsar. He said, he had clarified at that time only that he will not be in a position to contest since Ms Preneet Kaur was contesting from Patiala.
Capt Amarinder Singh said that his presence was required across the state and contesting from Amritsar would simply confine him to one single constituency. He disclosed that he had already a long list of requests from the sitting and prospective candidates from all the parliamentary constituencies across the state seeking time for campaigning.
The former Chief Minister also clarified that even if he contested and was elected as an MP from Amritsar he will not be able to do justice with people there as compared to someone who would be local. He pointed out that besides being an outsider he does not know Amritsar as much as someone from that area. Besides, he will not be able to spend required period of time there.
He maintained that the Congress had strong, powerful and quite influential leaders in Amritsar who can successfully take on the Akali-BJP candidate there. Besides, he added, Amritsar was a strong Congress bastion and the party had won the seat several times and during the last time the seat was declared in favour of the BJP candidate by fraud and deceit.
Arguing that the party must field a local candidate who is well versed with the local issues and problems, Capt Amarinder said, the people of Amritsar are already fatigued and frustrated because of an absentee MP and they will not like to replace one absentee MP with the other.
While the previous one was still visible once in a while, the present one if elected will never ever be seen around given his interests and commitments in Delhi, he pointed out. A strong local candidate will prove to be the best bet for the party, he asserted, while adding, we have such candidates available from all the communities whether Hindus or Sikhs.