News That Matters

Race on to fill Rana ‘void’

Deepkamal Kaur

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 18

The ouster of the only minister from Doaba, Rana Gurjit Singh, has triggered a race among Congress MLAs from the region. Among the frontrunners are: three-time MLA Sangat Singh Gilzian (63) from Urmur and second-timers Navtej Cheema (43) Sultanpur Lodhi, Pargat Singh (52) Jalandhar Cantonment, Sunder Sham Arora (58) Hoshiarpur and Rajneesh Babbi (57) Mukerian.

Doaba, where the Congress represents 15 of 23 constituencies, is expecting at least two new faces in the Cabinet in the proposed expansion. Having won as Independent in 2007, Lubana community leader Gilzian had subsequently won on Congress ticket twice in 2012 and 2017.

Capt Amarinder Singh loyalist Navtej Cheema too is actively projecting himself as a strong contender. Having remained as the chief whip of the party in his last tenure, Cheema has to his advantage two more factors. He is a Jat Sikh and more importantly the only Namdhari MLA.

If Cheema has an edge, so does Babbi, who is the son of former Finance Minister and ex-Speaker Vidhan Sabha Dr Kewal Krishan. His rivals say he should be counted as first-timer Congress MLA as he had earlier won as an Independent.

Olympian-turned-politician Pargat Singh has his fingers crossed. He too is a Jat like Cheema, but his detractors term him as a first-timer in the Congress.

The party does not have a choice among second-third timers, if it wants to elevate a Dalit leader from Doaba. It may pick Dr Raj Kumar Chabbewal, a Ravidassia.

Doaba hopefuls

  • Doaba, where the Congress represents 15 of 23 constituencies, is expecting at least two new faces in the Cabinet in the proposed expansion
  • Among the frontrunners are Sangat Singh Gilzian Navtej Cheema, Pargat Singh, Sunder Sham Arora and Rajneesh Babbi

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