The tug of war in the Congress over selection of candidates for the Punjab Assembly elections, especially over its state chief Captain Amarinder Singh’s push for giving tickets to some persons who recently joined the party from the ruling Akali Dal, is showing signs of escalation. Despite three meetings of the Sonia Gandhi-headed Central Election Committee, there is still no resolution in sight.
Sources said at the third CEC meeting on Tuesday, AICC general secretary and head of the Punjab Congress campaign committee, Ambika Soni, objected to giving tickets to former Akali leaders in some seats, arguing there were winnable Congress candidates in those seats.
Sources said her objection was specific and seat based.
Several Congress leaders have already approached the high command objecting to attempts to field those who have either quit the Akali Dal or were thrown out by the ruling party. Sources said the party on Wednesday decided to put on hold selection of candidates in those contentious seats, while it cleared about 25 names.
In another CEC meeting on December 8, AICC general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi had raised similar concerns. So, the nomination of Inderbir Singh Bolaria from the Amritsar South seat has been put on hold. Bolaria, who was once a close aide of Punjab Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia, was suspended by the Akali Dal.
Similarly, Amarinder’s plan to give tickets to former Akali minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur, Deepinder Singh Dhillon and Harinder Pal Singh Harry Mann is facing stiff resistance.
Meanwhile, Amarinder said on Wednesday that sitting MLAs who do not stand a chance to win will not be given tickets. He said the party will announce the second list of 20-odd candidates by next week. Regarding former BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, he said both he and his wife would not be fielded. He said the ‘one-family-one-ticket’ norm will be strictly enforced.