Congress veteran and six-time former Amritsar MP RL Bhatia dies of Covid at 100

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 15

Congress stalwart Raghunandan Lal Bhatia, popularly known as RL Bhatia, died of Covid here on Saturday. He was 100 and would have turned 101 on July 3. 

Bhatia had an illustrious political career as he represented the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency six times and also remained a Minister of State for External Affairs. He was also twice appointed a Governor.

He was born into a prosperous business family which has a sprawling home on the iconic Mall Road here, set up by the British during the Colonial period.

It was the death of his uncle Durgadas Bhatia, who was a sitting MP from Amritsar, which ushered him into politics as he successfully won the 1972 bypoll. He repeated the feat in 1980, 1984, 1991, 1996 and 1999.

It was cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, parachuted by his late mentor Arun Jaitley for the Amritsar seat in the 2004 General Election, who ousted him from competitive electoral politics.  

After his exit, it took one-and-a-half decade for the Congress to make a comeback here. It was another Congress stalwart, Capt Amarinder Singh, who won back the seat for his party in 2014. It is currently represented by Congress MP Gurjeet Singh Aujla.

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