The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Singh sibling' Join the queue
- Step-brother wants to contest but no signals from PM

Amritsar/New Delhi, Jan. 5: He may be the Prime Minister’s brother but Surjit Singh Kohli must stand in the queue with 900 who aren’t.

Amritsar businessman Kohli, Manmohan Singh’s step-brother, today told reporters he had sought a Congress ticket from Amritsar South for next month’s Punjab Assembly polls.

“But I have not received any positive indication from the Congress high command or from my brother Manmohan Singh,” he said.

Given his style and sense of propriety, the Prime Minister is unlikely to push his younger sibling’s case, and both Kohli and Punjab’s Congress chief minister Amarinder Singh seemed to understand that well.

“I have not spoken to my brother regarding this but this is for sure, I will not ask him to intervene for me,” Kohli said.

Amarinder told reporters in Delhi that “he (Kohli) will be like any other aspirant” — not the usual situation for a close relative of a top political leader.

“There are any number of ticket-seekers who say they are somebody’s brother or somebody’s nephew,” the chief minister said curtly. “I am aware the Prime Minister’s brother wants to contest. All decisions will be taken on the basis of winnability and merit.”

The list of Congress hopefuls for the 117 Assembly seats swelled to 900 today as the deadline for applications came to an end, but party sources couldn’t confirm if Kohli had filed one.

Kohli, who owns a rice mill and a posh garment showroom, doesn’t have a political background. He is believed to have once earlier tried to get a party ticket, only to be dissuaded by Manmohan, then finance minister.

Kohli, who said he had been motivated to fight the polls by local Congress leaders, seems to realise the battle on his hands. Sources close to him said that in private, he has been speaking of pleading before Manmohan’s wife Gursharan when she arrives in Amritsar for a family wedding a couple of weeks later.

Months ago, when Kohli and his wife had come on a Delhi trip, a busy Manmohan had forgotten to have them picked up at the railway station. The couple reportedly travelled to his residence in an auto-rickshaw. An auto ride is what Kohli’s political ambitions now seem headed for.

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