India Politics
Challenging royalty on a scooter
Feb 4, 2007 - 10:50:06 AM

Patiala, Feb 4 - The Patiala assembly seat in Punjab is one of the most important assembly seats in the Feb 13 election. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is seeking re-election from this seat on the Congress ticket. While he campaigns for Congress candidates all over the state, being the party's star campaigner, his relatively lesser known Shiromani Akali Dal opponent, Surjit Singh Kohli, is doing the rounds of this town on a scooter.

Kohli seems to have carefully chosen his campaign vehicle - compared to the Pajeros, Tata Safaris, Toyota Innovas and other sports utility vehicles - being used by other top political leaders - to campaign in Patiala. It gives a stark comparison between this 'down-to-earth' leader and his chopper-using opponent Amarinder Singh.

Driving the scooter mostly himself, Kohli gets immediately noticed as several other scooters and cars follow him. Even his security guards accompany him on other scooters. The vehicle comes in handy in negotiating some of the congested markets like Adalat bazaar and Johri bazaar and other tight bylanes of this town.

Kohli, who had been a minister in 1997, tells his electorate that he is a commoner pitted against royalty. Amarinder Singh belongs to the erstwhile royalty of Patiala and lives in the stately New Moti Bagh palace. But Kohli's campaign has definitely ensured that members of Singh's family, especial his MP wife Preneet Kaur, do not allow any let-up in the campaign for this seat when the chief minister is himself away to campaign for others.

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