WHILE THEIR political rivals from the SAD-BJP ruling alliance as well as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are busy campaigning in Punjab, the state Congress leaders are campaigning elsewhere — at the AICC headquarters in the Capital.
For almost a month now, the party’s ticket-seekers have been camping at the Punjab Bhawan here, making the rounds of the AICC office and residences of members of the screening committee, central election committee and other top leaders who can put in a word in their favour.
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“I have been camping here for a month now. I go to my constituency during the weekend because there are weddings and other functions that I have to attend. I then return to the Capital on Monday,” said Upender Sharma, a former Congress MLA.
Many other aspirants said they had not moved out of Delhi for weeks.
Their daily routine is fixed. They start the day with breakfast at Punjab Bhawan, then make their way to the AICC office. Lunch is usually at the nearby Khan Market or Pandara Road market, often in the company of other prospective candidates, sometimes even those who have set their sights on the same seat. Later, they head back to the AICC office or the residence of a top leader to lobby for tickets.
Sharma was a Congress MLA way back in 1992, after which he never won another election. In his debut term, he was made minister in charge of jails. He is now lobbying for a ticket from Kokapura seat, which he represented over two decades ago. Ahead of the 2012 assembly elections, Sharma quit the Congress and contested as a rebel — he came third.
The supporters of another aspirant, Balwinder Narang, have distributed a two-page note detailing the “resentment” against “outside Hindu candidate”, and support for a local Hindu candidate in Mansa.
The seat is significant as the sons of Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh’s close aide B S Chahal and former union minister Pawan Kumar Bansal are reported to be eyeing it. The note ends with names and signatures of “candidates/ applicants” who have purportedly backed Narang.
Besides their high-end SUVs, the ticket-seekers can be recognised by the files they carry, which not only contain their bio-data but also have documents against other contenders.
While the Congress announced the first list of 61 candidates last week, there were no surprises as 46 people, including 28 MLAs and 9 former MLAs, had contested the 2012 assembly elections on party tickets. The contentious seats have been kept on hold, prolonging the anxiety of the aspirants.