January 9, 2022 10:23:20 am
EVEN as the Election Commission of India announced poll date for Punjab and January 28 as last date of filing nominations, the ruling Congress has not been able to announce a single candidate despite having held several meetings of screening committee.
The first meeting of Central Election Committee (CEC) was scheduled for Saturday but it was canceled at night on Friday. The leaders had to log in virtually. Yet, the meeting was cancelled. AICC leader Rahul Gandhi is on a foreign trip and the Punjab Congress campaign committee chief Sunil Jakhar is also abroad.
The party has not been able to reach a consensus on all the candidates yet. The screening committee has only finalised on the seats where the candidates are an obvious choice. A number of Congress leaders said that the party would now go into a panic mode and start announcing the candidates.
“The last date of nominations is on January 28. We have only 20 days left to announce candidates for 117 seats. Also, There will be over 25 seats where there are more than one aspirants. Those are challenging seats. We do not know what will happen. The party will need time to placate those who who will get disappointed after being denied tickets,” a party leader said on anonymity.
The party fears defections by those being denied ticket. While SAD and AAP have announced most of the tickets, the BJP and former Chief Minister Amarinder’s party have not nominated any candidates yet. The Congress’ concern is BJP and Amarinder’s party.
In a multi-cornered contest like this, even thin margins can change the prospects of candidates. “BJP is anyway trying to woo most of our leaders. So is Amarinder Singh. If our aspirants go to these parties, they will affect the prospects,” said a leader.
While another put up a brave face stating that Congress has always declared candidates after the code of conduct only. “Sometime, we have seen candidates being declared on the last day of filing of nominations. We still have 20 days,” he said.
The ruling party has also indicated that it will give tickets on winnability even if it has to cut tickets of ministers. It will be another challenge.
The party however faces another challenge as PPCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu has been vying to be declared as the CM candidate. He has given enough indications that he would not campaign if he is not declared the CM candidate.
The party will have to sort out an issue with him also in case a situation arises.
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