Preneet Kaur’s defeat could mean the end of Patiala’s royal era - Hindustan Times
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Preneet Kaur’s defeat could mean the end of Patiala’s royal era

Jun 07, 2024 08:35 PM IST

Congress and AAP had fielded their best bets for the Patiala seat to take on Kaur. Instead of trying new faces, both AAP and Congress fielded local heavyweights

It was apparently the disgruntled farmers in the countryside who set off the descend of the political career of four-time MP and wife of former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh – Preneet Kaur. The reverence for the royal family in cities and ensuing lead therein — Patiala urban, Dera Bassi and Rajpura — couldn’t offset the ire of the farming community in the villages.

Patiala, May 29 (ANI): BJP candidate from Patiala Parliament Constituency, Preneet Kaur addresses a roadshow for the Lok Sabha elections, in Patiala on Wednesday.. (ANI Photo)(Rajesh Sachar) PREMIUM
Patiala, May 29 (ANI): BJP candidate from Patiala Parliament Constituency, Preneet Kaur addresses a roadshow for the Lok Sabha elections, in Patiala on Wednesday.. (ANI Photo)(Rajesh Sachar)

Fighting her sixth Lok Sabha elections in over two decades, 79-year-old Preneet Kaur, often called ‘Maharani’ for being the wife of Singh, was dethroned by Congress candidate Dharamvira Gandhi by a slender margin of 14, 831 votes.

This was the second occasion when Gandhi defeated Preneet Kaur in the Lok Sabha elections; the first was in 2014 when Gandhi had contested an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ticket.

Out of the nine assembly segments, Kaur took the lead in three – Patiala Urban, Rajpura, and Dera Bassi. All three assembly segments are populated by the Hindu community. The remaining six segments of the Patiala constituency comprise rural areas, where, Kaur remained in the third spot. It was obviously these three rural segments — Ghanour, Sanour and Nabha — that ruled her out from the race to 18th Lok Sabha.

In these three assembly segments, Kaur lagged behind Gandhi by nearly 50,000 votes – a margin she couldn’t undo in urban assembly segments. Kaur finished third with 2.88 lakh votes while Gandhi won the elections with 3.05 lakh votes. Punjab’s incumbent health minister and AAP Candidate, Dr Balbir, finished second with 2.90 lakh votes.

All through her campaigning, Kaur had to face the protests of farmer unions, especially in rural areas. The absence of former chief minister Singh during campaigning is said to have played a role in Kaur’s defeat.

The fact that BJP was fighting the elections alone after almost three decades, and therefore had to deal with the lack of a cadre base — more so in rural areas — is also seen as an important factor in Kaur’s defeat.

Strong opponents fielded by Congress and AAP

The Congress and AAP had fielded their best bets for the Patiala Lok Sabha seat to take on Kaur. Instead of trying new faces, both AAP and Congress fielded local political heavyweights. Gandhi was roped in at the eleventh hour by the Congress, while AAP, ignoring many ticket aspirants including Punjab CM’s media advisor Baltej Pannu, decided to field Punjab’s health minister Balbir Singh.

Congress candidate Gandhi’s clean image and his philanthropy struck a chord with voters. Known as the people’s doctor, Gandhi, has a good track record as a Patiala MP, who had worked for various projects including the electrification of the Rajpura-Bathinda railway line during his earlier tenure as Patiala MP.

Royals reach the end of the political road

Many look at Kaur’s defeat as an end of the former royal family’s political dominance and electoral sway in the constituency, more so given their age: Kaur is 79 and Singh is 82.

It is after over two decades that no one from the family will be in Parliament or in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha. It was in 1999 when Kaur first became MP from Patiala. She followed her first victory with wins in 2004, 2009 and 2019.

Kaur was in state assembly for a short period between 2014- 2017. Captain was the state chief minister between 2002-2007 and 2017-2021 before he was removed from the post by his own party then the Congress.

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