April 13, 2021 2:41:24 am
A disquiet is prevailing within the ruling Congress in Punjab amid reports that political strategist Prashant Kishor will decide on the tickets for the next year’s Assembly elections.
There have been reports that Kishor, who was appointed as as the principal advisor to Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on March 1 this year, has suggested not giving tickets to nearly one-third of the incumbent lawmakers. The proposal has not gone down well with several leaders questioning his authority, saying it was a prerogative of the party to decide on the tickets and Kishor was not an appointee of the Congress.
A senior leader said that it was a forgone conclusion that constituencies of certain MLAs would be changed, but even that was for the party to decide. “Who is Kishor to decide? Who will give him this authority? Has the Chief Minister stated that Kishor will decide on the tickets,” asked the leader.
A minister, on anonymity, said that this was the modus operandi of Kishor to create a scare. “This is what he had done in the past also. He tried to tread on this path. At that time, the then party affairs incharge Asha Kumari protested against it openly. The party affairs incharge now, Harish Rawat, is currently battling Covid. Let us see what happens when he is back in the field.”
Punjab Congress has 80 members in the 177-strong Assembly. As the state heads for polls, due early next year, the Congress is looking to retain power. However, it will soon have to take a call on the segments where its lawmakers are facing anti-incumbency.
“But people will not allow Kishor to decide on the tickets. He is not the one who has worked on the ground, remained amid people and worked hard. He is a strategist. He should confine himself to preparing the strategy. This time, he is CM’s advisor. He should concentrate on how the government has to fulfil the promises made before the 2017 elections and then decide on what is to be done next. He should let the leaders fight the battle of votes themselves,” said a party MLA.
The MLA added that when Kishor was meeting the legislators, it had come as a disappointment for certain leaders as the state party chief Sunil Jakhar was not involved in the process. “That time we kept quiet as we thought that he was getting the feedback from the ground and he had to get the promises fulfilled. But to say that he will decide who gets to contest from where, is not acceptable. We have the CM himself, who has so many years of experience behind his back. Then we have the general secretary incharge and also the high command”.
During the 2017 elections, certain MLAs wanted to change their constituencies fearing anti-incumbency. The CM, at that time, had said that the leaders would have to stick to their own segments. In the process, a few leaders such as former CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal lost. This time, the party is contemplating allowing some leaders to change their segments.
With just about 10 months to go for the polls, the lobbying for tickets has started. A few leaders, who were at loggerheads with the CM, are learnt to have made peace to hone up their prospects for party ticket.
Sources close to the CM said that tickets will be a prerogative of Amarinder, PPCC chief and the party high command, “Of course, the feedback will be taken from Kishor. And that too not from Kishor alone but from two-three sources. This happened during last elections also,” a source said.
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