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Bittu becomes second Union Minister from Ludhiana

In 2012, Congress MP from Ludhiana Manish Tewari was inducted into Manmohan Singh-led UPA govt at Centre

Bittu becomes second Union Minister from Ludhiana

Ravneet Singh Bittu

Tribune News Service

Nitin Jain

Ludhiana, June 9

Ravneet Singh Bittu became the second Union Minister from Ludhiana on Sunday.

In 2012, the then Congress MP from Ludhiana Manish Tewari was inducted into the then Dr Manmohan Singh-led UPA government at the Centre. Tewari was made minister of state (independent charge) of information and broadcasting.

While Tewari was an elected MP from Ludhiana, Bittu (48), has lost this parliamentary poll from Ludhiana, which he had fought on the BJP ticket, after winning his previous three consecutive elections – two from Ludhiana in 2019 and 2014 and maiden from Anandpur Sahib in 2009 on the Congress ticket.

Sporting a pink turban and clad in white shirt and denims, the Congress-turned-BJP leader took oath as minister of state in English.

However, portfolios were yet to be allocated to the 72-member Modi 3.0 Council of Ministers, which was sworn in by President Droupadi Murmu at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi this evening.

Punjab Congress president Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, who was dubbed as an “outsider” had pipped his friend-turned-foe turncoat three-time sitting MP Bittu of the BJP, whom he called as “traitor” to wrest the Ludhiana LS seat.

The three-time sitting MLA from Gidderbaha, Warring had polled 3,22,224 votes, which were 20,497 more than 3,01,282 votes polled by his arch rival Bittu, to win Ludhiana for the record fourth time in a row. No other party had represented this predominantly urban general seat four times consecutively since 1952. The surprise and rather unexpected elevation of Bittu, who will be the BJP’s Sikh face from Punjab in the Union Cabinet, is seen as the saffron party’s outreach in the border state ahead of the 2027 Assembly poll.

The grandson of slain Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh will be the lone representative from the state in the Union Cabinet after the BJP lost all 13 Lok Sabha seats that it had fought alone for the first time since 1996 after parting ways with it’s age-old ally SAD.

From being Rahul Gandhi’s “soldier” to “Modi’s man” in his two-decade political career, this firebrand politician vows to become a bridge between Punjab and Delhi.

“I will become a bridge between Punjab and Delhi and will take up all issues, especially that pertaining to farmers, directly with the PM to get them addressed once for all,” Congress-turned-BJP leader told The Tribune over phone from Delhi.

“It was an unexpected call which I received this morning following which I rushed to the Prime Minister’s residence, where I was told that I would be part of the Modi 3.0 Cabinet,” the young minister said.

He said his nomination to the Cabinet had proved beyond any doubt that Punjab figures on top in Modi’s priority states.

“The BJP having lost all 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state and still getting a Cabinet berth is nothing less than Modi’s benevolence and gift to Punjab,” Bittu remarked.

Bittu’s elevation had become imminent after the BJP stalwart and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, while addressing an election rally in Ludhiana on May 26, had promised to make Bittu “big man” if Ludhiana again sent him to Lok Sabha.

Urging Ludhiana voters to re-elect Bittu, whom he called as his friend of five years, as MP, Shah had promised to make him a big man afterwards. “Yeh Ravneet Bittu mera dost hai, 5 saal se dost bana hai mera, ise Ludhiana se Dilli ki sansad mein bhejiye, isko bada aadmi banane ka kaam main karunga... (This Ravneet Bittu is my friend, has become my friend five years ago, send him from Ludhiana to Delhi’s Parliament, I will make him a big man),” said Shah to the big public applause.

On hearing this, Bittu, who had recently quit the Congress to join the BJP, had got up from his seat and bend towards Shah with folded hands.

Since Bittu lost the elections, not only Ludhiana but he himself had lost all hopes to get “power” as minister.

The three-generation Congress turncoat, who had recently left the party to join the BJP, had contested and won his maiden election from the Anandpur Sahib Lok Sabha constituency in 2009. Then 33, Bittu had become the youngest MP from Punjab. Following his victory in Anandpur Sahib, there was no looking back till 2019 for Bittu, who is a Class XII pass-out and a licensed commercial pilot. He had won the last two Lok Sabha elections in 2014 and 2019 and lost this poll from Ludhiana.

“My grandfather had laid down his life for the nation and I have also never shied away from making any sacrifice for my people and the motherland,” he asserted while accusing the Congress and AAP of jointly conspiring against him and posing a serious threat to his life and liberty.

Even after he paid Rs 1.83 crore as house rent, the Z-plus protectee was, on the day of his filing nomination papers, dislodged from the government house, where he has been putting up since 2016. Rendered homeless in the midst of electioneering, Bittu had then shifted to the BJP office here.

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