Lok Sabha Polls 2024 | 'Maharani Sahiba' banks on 'bharosa, ashirwaad' to retain Patiala stronghold

Having ended her long association with the Congress and joined the BJP, 'Maharani Sahiba' -- as Preneet Kaur is often called by her supporters -- holds the keys to the saffron party's fortunes in Punjab, where it is contesting the Lok Sabha elections independently.
Last Updated : 26 May 2024, 07:30 IST
Last Updated : 26 May 2024, 07:30 IST

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Patiala (Punjab): Preneet Kaur is banking on what she calls people's unwavering "bharosa aur ashirwaad" as she embarks on yet another electoral battle from the prestigious Patiala Lok Sabha constituency in Punjab, seeking a fifth term in Parliament.

Kaur (79), the wife of former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh -- the scion of the erstwhile Patiala royal family -- is locked in a four-corner electoral battle in Patiala, widely considered to be a Congress bastion.

Having ended her long association with the Congress and joined the BJP, "Maharani Sahiba" -- as she is often called by her supporters -- holds the keys to the saffron party's fortunes in Punjab, where it is contesting the Lok Sabha elections independently.

Kaur was suspended by the Congress last year after Singh joined the BJP. She switched to the saffron party this March.

The Patiala constituency is considered to be Kaur's stronghold. She represented it in the Lok Sabha for three consecutive terms in 1999, 2004 and 2009 before suffering defeat in the 2014 elections to AAP's Dharamvira Gandhi. She was re-elected from the seat in 2019 and returned to the Lok Sabha.

Gandhi, a doctor by profession and a philanthropist, is now with the Congress and will take on Kaur in Patiala.

AAP has fielded Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh while NK Sharma, a realtor, is contesting on a Shiromani Akali Dal ticket.

In one of her public meetings, Kaur referred to herself as the "daughter of Patiala" and said she will use the trust reposed in her by the people to provide all-round development in the constituency, once elected.

"This election is not merely about politics. It is about the renewal of my relationship with the people of Patiala constituency," she said.

"People's unwavering 'bharosa (trust)' and 'ashirwaad (blessings)' are my greatest treasures," she added.

Kaur urged the people to secure Narendra Modi's third term as prime minister and said she will bring development to Patiala if it allows her to be part of Modi's "team".

"Modi provided Ayushman (Bharat) cards to people above 70 years of age so that they can get free treatment up to Rs 5 lakh," she said.

After June 4, with the trust of the people, Kaur said she will complete the development in every part of Patiala.

She also slammed Punjab's AAP dispensation, saying the Modi government granted permission for the Rs 752 crore-northern bypass of Patiala but the state government has not yet been able to release its share of Rs 250 crore of the total project cost.

"People of AAP will not be able to get any votes by making false promises," she said.

Kaur herself has faced protests from farmers, who are confronting BJP candidates in Punjab with black flags and posing questions to them.

Her political opponent and Congress nominee Gandhi slammed the BJP government at the Centre, alleging that farmers are still protesting as their demand for a law on the minimum support price for crops and implementation of the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations have not been accepted.

Shiromani Akali Dal's Sharma, a former MLA, slammed Kaur and said she failed to take up a single development work for the people despite being an MP for 20 years and her husband serving as chief minister twice.

Referring to the state's previous Congress government when Singh was the chief minister, Sharma said it reneged on its promise to wipe out drugs in four weeks and farm debt waivers.

He also lashed out at AAP over not honouring its poll promise of giving Rs 1,000 to every woman, despite being in government for more than two years.

AAP's Balbir Singh, a doctor, is banking on the Bhagwant Mann government's work, including providing government jobs, opening of more than 800 mohalla clinics and supplying free electricity, to woo the electorate.

The Patiala constituency, which has 18.06 lakh registered voters, comprises the Nabha, Patiala (Rural), Rajpura, Dera Bassi, Ghanaur, Sanour, Patiala, Samana and Shutrana assembly segments.

Since 1952, the Congress has won the seat 10 out of 17 times. The Shiromani Akali Dal has thrice won the seat.

Punjab's 13 Lok Sabha seats go to the polls in the last phase of the elections on June 1.

Published 26 May 2024, 07:30 IST

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