APPARENTLY WARY of rebellion, the Congress has postponed the announcement of its candidates for the 2017 Assembly elections. Earlier, the party had said it will name candidates for all 117 seats by October. Now, however, it may happen in November-end or even later. The Congress has decided that it will first let other parties nominate their candidates before it does so itself.
Senior vice-president of Punjab Congress Lal Singh told The Indian Express that they have finished the scrutiny of contenders. “We would come close to declaring candidates only in November-end. But we want all others to declare their nominees before us. We will see what they do and we will then give a befitting candidate in each constituency,” he said.
The senior vice-president said AAP has already announced its candidates for almost half of the assembly seats. “We know Akalis have also decided on their nominees. Most of them have been told about their candidature and they are already preparing for the elections in their respective constituencies. We will wait for their official declaration.”
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The Congress had started its process of inviting applications from ticket-seekers in August this year and claimed it would announce the nominees soon as it would give them ample time to prepare ground in their constituencies. However, many political developments took place in the state since, especially in the AAP, which made Congress cautious.
The Aam Aadmi Party that released two lists of 32 candidates, ahead of any other party in Punjab, faced intense protests from its volunteers. The party suffered a split after its ousted convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur quit AAP and launched his own outfit, Aapna Punjab Party (APP). Also, Chhotepur, after launching APP, is preparing to form an alliance Progressive Punjab Alliance (PPA) which is likely to be a platform of all “rejects” from across the parties.
Chhotepur has already announced that his alliance would be open for all leaders, cutting across party lines, who thought for the betterment of Punjab. He has expressed his plan to contest all 117 seats and is being viewed as the final destination of all rejects. “We know that most of the strong contenders who would not get a ticket would look here and there. All this weakens the prospects of party nominees,” said a senior Congress leader.
The Congress has already taken an undertaking from ticket-seekers that they would not rebel against party candidates. Congress’s defeat in 2012 Assembly elections was largely attributed to party rebels who had contested from various seats and cut into party votes.