Facing a tough electoral battle in Punjab next year, Congress has decided not to let sitting MLAs in general seats change their assembly segments and strictly apply the “one family, one ticket” formula by not allowing two people from a family to contest. “These two rules are non-negotiable. We have decided that all sitting MLAs in general seats must defend their own segments. They will not get to replace their seats.
“Replacements will be allowed only in case of 34 reserved seats. Also, the decision to allot one ticket per family is final. It will not be bent,” Punjab Congress President Amarinder Singh told PTI in an interview. He said the remaining party tickets for Punjab are likely to be finalised by early next week when the party’s Central Election Committee headed by Congress President Sonia Gandhi would meet.
The former Punjab Chief Minister said allowing sitting MLAs to shift to other constituencies would send “wrong signals” to the party workers. “Everyone must go into this battle thinking they are winning,” Amarinder said at a time when many sitting MLAs of Congress, including some senior leaders, want to shift to other constituencies.
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Among those are six-time MLA from Sanaur Lal Singh, who wants to shift to Samana, but is unlikely to be obliged. Another MLA demanding a change is Indian Youth Congress President Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, who is hoping to shift to Muktsar though he represents Gidderbaha in the Punjab assembly. “No changes will be allowed for any general candidates,” Amarinder categorically said.
Singh also said the first list of 61 candidates announced a few days back reflected the sentiment that the MLAs will have to defend their turfs when it comes to general seats. Former Punjab CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who was seeking to contest from Sunam has been fielded from Lehra, which she currently represents in the assembly.
Similarly, the “one family, one ticket” rule will apply, said Amarinder.
“The CEC is likely to meet on Tuesday,” he said, as 56 seats are pending declaration. Punjab assembly has 117 seats. On “one family, one ticket” rule, Amarinder referred to his own family in which his wife and Patiala MLA Preneet Kaur had stepped down in his favour.
Similarly, sitting MLA from Qadian Charanjit Kaur Bajwa has stepped down in favour of her brother-in-law Fateh Jung Bajwa. Guriqbal Kaur Babli, the Nawanshahr MLA has vacated her seat for her son Angad Saini whose name has been announced in the first list.
Also, former Madhya Pradesh cadre IAS officer Amar Singh, who was principal secretary to AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh when he was the state’s chief minister, has been fielded this time from Raikot reserved seat instead of his brother and sitting MLA GS Boparai.
Congress is seeking to wrest power from the ruling Akali-BJP combine after two successive defeats. The state appears set for a tough three-cornered fight with Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party seeking to queer the pitch for both Congress and Akali-BJP alliance.