Ravneet Bittu: BJP's anti-Khalistan Sikh face from Punjab

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Chandigarh, Jun 9 (PTI) BJP leader Amit Shah in a poll rally last month had asked people of Ludhiana to send Ravneet Singh Bittu to Parliament, promising them that he will make him a 'bada aadmi' (a big man).

Even though he lost from the Ludhiana parliamentary seat, Bittu became a Minister of State in the third Narendra Modi-led cabinet.

Bittu, 48, lost to Congress candidate and state unit chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring from the Ludhiana Lok Sabha seat by a margin of 20,942 votes.

Bittu is the grandson of late Beant Singh, who was assassinated in August 1995 when he was the Punjab chief minister.

Bittu is a three-time MP — twice from Ludhiana and once from Anandpur Sahib, both times on a Congress ticket.

He defected to the BJP this March, leaving several Congress leaders surprised.

At the time of joining, Bittu had praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, saying that they have a lot of affection for Punjab and want to do a lot for the state.

The BJP later fielded him from the Ludhiana Lok Sabha seat.

During election campaigning, Bittu called Shah his friend, in turn, Shah promised to make Bittu a 'bada aadmi'.

"Isse (Bittu) Ludhiana se Delhi ki Sansad mein bhejiye, isko bada aadmi banane ka kaam main karunga (Send him from Ludhiana to Parliament in Delhi, I will make him a big man)," Shah had said in the Ludhiana rally.

The BJP's move to induct Bittu as a minister in the Modi Cabinet assumes significance as the saffron party seeks to spread its footprint in Punjab.

In the just concluded 2024 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP did not win any of 13 seats and even lost its stronghold Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur.

However, the vote share of BJP, which went solo in the Lok Sabha polls, doubled to 18.56 per cent, as compared to 9.63 per cent in 2019.

Bittu was first elected as an MP from the Anandpur Sahib Lok Sabha constituency in 2009. He was elected MP from Ludhiana in 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

In the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Bittu performed well in the constituency's urban assembly segments but he could not get a lead in rural assembly segments, which led to his defeat.

Throughout the campaign, BJP candidates in Punjab faced protests from farmer groups.

Bittu is the son of late Swaranjit Singh, who was one of five children of Beant Singh. His cousin Gurkirat Singh Kotli is still in Congress.

Bittu, known for his strong views against pro-Khalistan leaders, had even opposed the demand for the release of Balwant Singh Rajoana, a convict in the assassination case of his grandfather.

Several Sikh bodies have been demanding release of many Sikh prisoners.

In 2021, when farmers' protest against the now-repealed laws was in full swing, Bittu was assaulted, pushed around and had his turban pulled off in what he called a "murderous attack" at the Singhu border during a 'Jan Sansad' programme.

His vehicle was also damaged in the attack at the Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji Memorial where he had gone with Congress's leaders Gurjeet Singh Aujla and Kulbir Singh Zira to attend the event.

His political rivals have always accused him of being inaccessible to people. PTI CHS VSD VN VN

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