Punjab polls 2022: Amarinder Singh on campaign trail, his prestige at stake
Patiala, Feb 11: In front of the lush lawns of new Moti Bagh palace, the private residence of the scion of erstwhile Patiala royal family Captain Amarinder Singh, vehicles line up as the former chief minister prepares to hit the campaign trail.
Inside, Punjab Lok Congress' supporters have a quick word with him before the PLC chief sets out to address back-to-back poll meetings in Patiala's neighbouring constituencies. Potraits of Baba Ala Singh, the city's founder and Amarinder Singh's ancestors are put up on the palace walls.
In his over 50 year-long political journey, the veteran leader's prestige may never have been at stake more than what is now. After Singh's unceremonious exit as chief minister in September last year following a bitter tussle with Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, he floated PLC, which is jointly contesting the February 20 polls with BJP and SAD (Sanyukt). Singh, who represented Patiala (Urban) seat in 2002, 2007, 2012 and 2017 as a Congress candidate, is seeking re-election from the segment as PLC nominee.
In 2017, Singh won from Patiala by a huge margin of over 52,000 votes. However, this time even though Singh may not be facing any heavy weight rivals from here, the challenge he faces is not only to ensure that PLC does well, but being a prominent leader, he also has to ensure that the alliance does well in the polls. Many still address Singh as "Maharaja Sahab".
His father Yadavindra Singh was the last ruler of Patiala. Singh's wife Preneet Kaur is Congress MP from Patiala. Singh has also remained a two-time MP and had humbled BJP veteran late Arun Jaitley in 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Amritsar. On a bright and sunny Thursday afternoon, Singh leaves the new Moti Bagh palace to address the first poll meeting of the day at nearby Sanaur, where he seeks votes for PLC candidate Bikramjit Singh Chahal, son of his close aide and advisor BIS Chahal.