About a dozen sitting Punjab Congress MLAs may not get party tickets for the upcoming 2017 Assembly elections as several surveys undertaken by the party have revealed they were not in a winning position. Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh had, a few days ago, indicated that about 50 per cent of party MLAs could lose nomination as tickets would be given on winnability. These MLAs have been sounded out by the party, leaving them lobbying hard with party seniors as a last-ditch effort.
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The issue came up for discussion in rounds of meetings of screening committee of the party under way at Rakabganj Road Congress war room. The final decision, however, would be taken by the party high command, a source said.
While a few of these MLAs may lose tickets due to poor performance, others like Patiala (urban) MLA Preneet Kaur and Qadian MLA Charanjit Kaur Bajwa have expressed their desire not to contest the election. Preeneet Kaur has made way for her husband, Amarinder, who is likely to contest from his pocket borough. Bajwa has not applied for a ticket as her brother-in-law Fateh Jung Singh Bajwa is a claimant from Qadian.
Nawan Shahar legislator Guriqbal Kaur too has been promoting her son Angad Singh as a candidate to replace her. Sanaur MLA Lal Singh’s son, Rajinder Singh, too has applied for a ticket. With Amarinder insisting on one-family-one-ticket rule, only one of them is likely to get the ticket. Sources said Lal Singh may make way for his son.
In another constituency, represented by a former minister, a well-connected woman leader is eying the ticket. With surveys not favouring him, he may be replaced. Another sitting MLA wants to shift from his constituency and contest from Malout, but he may not get the ticket.
Former CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who represents Lehra, too is said to be willing to shift to Sunam. State’s Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa is the MLA from Sunam but the Shiromani Akali Dal has fielded him from Lehra this time. Sources said she could be offered either Sahnewal or Sangrur.
Uncertainty prevails in Jalandhar (Cantonment) and Bathinda (Urban) segments with former SAD MLA Pargat Singh staking his claim on Jalandhar (cantt) and Amarinder already announcing Jagbir Brar’s candidature from there.
In Bathinda (urban), Amarinder had announced his aide and former minister Surinder Singla’s name.
Manpreet Singh Badal, state’s former finance minister and estranged nephew of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, too has staked claim on Bathinda city. While sources say Pargat and Manpreet had expressed their wish to contest from these two constituencies to AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi, it remains to be seen whether Amarinder gets his way or the duo will be shifted.