The Congress on Thursday gave election tickets to several turncoats, including the Akali Dal candidate who contested against Captain Amarinder Singh’s wife Preneet Kaur in the last Lok Sabha elections, triggering anger and resentment in the party. Former BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, meanwhile, met Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to formalise his entry into the party. The Congress released its third list of candidates for 23 seats in Punjab on Thursday. Former hockey captain Pargat Singh’s name did not figure in the list. The MLA from Jalandhar Cantt, Pargat had joined the party recently. Ludhiana East — the seat which former Union minister Manish Tewari is keen to contest — also did not figure in the list.
Sources said the central election committee meeting of the party witnessed heated debate over giving tickets to Akali turncoats. The committee had to meet on Tuesday and Wednesday to clear candidates in 23 of the 40 remaining seats in Punjab.
The party is also yet to announce the candidate from Amritsar South seat, where Amarinder is said to be keen to field former Akali minister Inderbir Singh Bolaria. Bolaria was once a close aide of Punjab Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia. He was suspended by the Akali Dal, after which he joined the Congress. An influential section is rooting for Jasbir Singh Gill alias Dimpa from the same seat.
The inclusion of Deepinder Singh Dhillon from Dera Bassi in Thursday’s list has caused anger. Dhillon contested against Preneet Kaur in the Lok Sabha polls as an Akali nominee. He was given the ticket overlooking Congress secretary Manpreet Sandhu.
The list also includes Rajwinder Kaur Bhagike from Nihalsinghwala constituency. He is a sitting MLA from the Akali Dal from Nihalsinghwala constituency. He joined the Congress a month ago.
Former Akali leader Kamaljit Singh Karwal has been fielded from Atam Nagar, while former CPI leader Nathu Ram, who has joined the Congress, will contest from Balluana. Harminder Singh Jassi, a relative of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, has been fielded from Maur, while Devinder Ghubaya, son of Akali MP Sher Singh Ghubaya, has been given ticket from Fazilka seat.