Congress’s latest campaign, the Punjab Congress Express, landed in fresh controversy on Tuesday. Party ticket aspirants here objected to the campaign which, they said, promoted a certain party leader.
The campaign, featuring a customised mini-bus, rolled out in Gill with MP Ravneet Singh Bittu, MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu and state Congress V-P Amar Singh as key speakers in Ludhiana.
However, since Amar Singh was a ticket aspirant from Gill constituency, his photographs on the hoardings did not go well with other contenders. They alleged that Captain’s poll strategist Prashant Kishor’s team had crossed a line by “favouring” him even before any formal announcement.
Senior Congress leader and two-time MLA Malkeet Singh Dakha, Youth Congress vice president Sunny Kainth, Kirtinder Singh Singhpura and Nirmal Kaira objected to the apparent “favour”. Dakha alleged he was not allowed on stage either by “bouncers” of Kishor’s team.
After MP Bittu intervened Dakha was allowed to render a short speech.
However, the duel between Amar Singh and him did not stop and both took jibes at each other in their speech in Punjabi.
“Dekh laange kon vadda leader hai, tu ya main,’ (we will see who is a bigger leader, you or me),” said both to each other.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Dakha said, “Team IPAC of Kishor has no right to project one applicant as the party candidate. Even if he (Amar Singh) is a speaker, he should have been replaced for Gill constituency seeing conflict of interest.
Kainth said, “We all have applied for ticket not Amar Singh alone. We were not even invited for today’s campaign. Senior leader like Dakha was not allowed to sit on stage, forget about us. Prashant Kishor’s team is not going to announce any ticket. Their work is to promote the party, not dictate.”
Later, Bittu got all leaders on stage and clarified that no ticket has been announced for anyone yet by high command. Amar Singh told The Indian Express, “(Dakha) is frustrated because his own workers are now in my favor for ticket from Gill,” he said.
MLA Ashu termed it as a ‘misunderstanding’. “Dakha ji and other ticket applicants misunderstood that Amar Singh is being promoted as candidate. His photo was there on hoarding. A little bit of competitiveness is natural,” he said.
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