The Congress screening committee led by former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot has not been able to reach a consensus on the fate of turncoats in the party even after two rounds of long meetings on the issue on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The party came close to releasing a list of over 60 candidates, including most of the sitting MLAs, but held it back at the last minute. A senior party leader said the list of 65 to 68 nominees would be released on Thursday in all likelihood.
Sources said the first list would not have any leader who switched over from Shiromani Akali Dal to Congress.
However, former finance minister Manpreet Badal, it is learnt, is likely to figure in the list. He may be fielded from Bathinda (Urban) seat.
Former Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa had raised a red flag over certain turncoats getting preference over Congress loyalists in the party.
They included former jails minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur and SAD MLA Inderbir Singh Bolaria. Bajwa had raised the issue with AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
The issue was also raised in today’s meeting of Congress MPs organised by Rahul to chalk out the strategy to take on the centre on demonetisation, said Rajya Sabha MP Shamsher Singh Dullo, adding that all party MPs from Punjab told Rahul strongly Congress leaders should be preferred over turncoats.
In the backdrop of this opposition, fate of former Akali leaders hangs in balance. Discussions on their prospects would continue on Thursday.