CHANDIGARH : It was as recent as March when Captain Amarinder Singh’s younger brother and former Congress leader Malwinder Singh came back to the party fold and announced resolution to all “personal differences” with his sister-in-law and former Union minister Preneet Kaur.
But the announcement seems to be short-lived as the likely candidature of Patiala royal Preneet from Patiala (Urban) Assembly seat in the August 21 byelection has again brought to the fore the old enmity within the family.
The seat fell vacant after sitting MLA Capt. Amarinder Singh became the Member of Parliament from Amritsar in the last Lok Sabha elections.
The decision on the candidate selection from Patiala was left to Amarinder and his family by Punjab Congress President Partap Singh Bajwa. However, Malwinder is opposed to his sister-in-law’s candidature. He said, “She lost the Patiala Lok Sabha seat recently, and now how can she win again with the baggage of the UPA and their bad reputation which is still fresh in the public memory as she was part of UPA government for 10 years? The party should field a fresh face if it wants to win.”
A three-time MP from Patiala, Kaur has never contested an Assembly election. She reportedly had met Congress President Sonia Gandhi who had given her consent to contest but an official announcement is yet to be made.
Besides Patiala (Urban), by-election will also be held in Talwandi Sabo where Harminder Singh Jassi is likely to be the Congress candidate. It is learnt that Bajwa has recommended their names.
In the recent Lok Sabha elections, Kaur was defeated by Dr Dharamvira Gandhi of the Aam Aadmi Party. But interestingly she led in the Patiala Assembly segment by over 7,000 votes. However, the Congress’s vote share in this prestigious Assembly seat has nosedived by almost 30 per cent compared to the 2012 Assembly elections.
A bitter critic of Kaur, Malwinder’s animosity is rooted in the fact that he was pipped by her son Raninder Singh in the ticket race to contest from Samana Assembly seat in 2012. Malwinder was the frontrunner for the Congress ticket as he had nurtured that constituency but Kaur managed ticket for Raninder who eventually lost the poll. Earlier in 2009, he had also lost from Bathinda Lok Sabha. This incident had led Malwinder to quit the Congress and join the Akali Dal. However, a few months back, he rejoined the party.