In Congress citadel Patiala, Jats 30%, but poorly represented

In Congress citadel Patiala, Jats 30%, but poorly represented

Punjab Congress recently held a show of strength in Patiala. file

Aman Sood

Tribune news service

Patiala, November 29

Tension is brewing within the Congress citadel of Patiala where the 4.7-lakh strong Jat community, which comprises 30 per cent of the total 14.85 lakh population, is feeling sidelined. With Capt Amarinder Singh leaving the Congress, the Jat Sikhs in Patiala are demanding a minimum of two seats — Sanaur and Patiala Urban.

Sanaur & Patiala Urban best bet

  • Three Congress’ MLAs —Hardyal Singh Kamboj (Rajpura), Madan Lal Jalalpur (Ghanaur) and Rajinder Singh (Samana) — are from the OBC category. All three are seeking re-election
  • Congress has two reserved seats in Nabha and Shutrana. Minister Brahm Mohindra is seeking re-election from Patiala Rural. Only Sanaur and Patiala Urban are left, where Jats can be fielded

Ignore community at own peril

Ignoring the Jat Sikh community can prove detrimental to Congress, as it will surely face candidates backed by Capt Amarinder Singh’s outfit. Political analysts

Going by seniority, political acumen and caste matrix, Patiala district has primarily been a Congress turf, but things can change quickly with Capt Amarinder Singh floating his own party and fielding candidates against the Congress. However, with the Shriomani Akali Dal-BSP announcing five Jat Sikh candidates in Patiala, the Congress now is left with two seats from where they can give representation to this farming community.

“Even the Jat Sikhs are poorly represented in the District Congress. We will surely meet PCC president Navjot Sidhu and take up the issue of giving more representation to the community,” said senior leaders within the Congress. “We cannot allow Jats leaders to eye Capt Amarinder’s outfit,” they said.

Already three of Congress MLAs in Patiala — Hardyal Singh Kamboj (Rajpura), Madan Lal Jalalpur (Ghanaur), and Rajinder Singh (Samana) — are Kamboj Sikh (OBC category). All three are seeking reelection from their respective constituencies and there is hardly any opposition within the party against their candidature.

Political observers believe this gives Congress only Sanaur and Patiala Urban, where they can field Jat Sikhs. Prominent Jat Sikh leader Harinder Pal Singh Harry Mann is seeking Congress ticket from Sanaur from where he lost to SAD in 2017. He managed a lead of 42,000 for Preneet Kaur in 2019 MP elections. “Perhaps I am the only Jat Sikh candidate seeking a ticket from Patiala. I have been nurturing the constituency for the past over six years”, he said.

Murmurs of Congress stalwart Lal Singh, father of Samana MLA, eyeing a ticket from Sanaur are also doing the rounds, but it is highly unlikely that the Congress high command would ignore Jat Sikhs and give another ticket to Kamboj community. Congress has two reserved seats in Nabha and Shutrana, while Cabinet Minister Brahm Mohindra is seeking re-election from Patiala rural and is promoting his son to contest from the same seat.

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