Congress on Thursday released its first list of 61 candidates for the upcoming Assembly polls in Punjab, fielding state unit chief Amarinder Singh, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, CLP leader Charanjit Singh Channi and Sunil Jakhar. The party has retained 31 sitting MLAs, while dropping only three including Preneet Kaur, who made way for her husband Amarinder from the Patiala Urban Assembly seat.
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The Congress has chosen seven new faces backed by “strong credibility and winnability criteria”. The list includes five youths, six women, eight former MLAs and one former MP. The names were cleared earlier by the Central Election Committee headed by Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
Amarinder said since there were too many aspirants, those who could not make it to the final list for Assembly polls will be accommodated once the party forms its government. He appealed to all Congress workers to come together to campaign for the party’s victory in Punjab.
He said winnability is key criteria for selection and chose to go with winnable candidates across various cross-sections, striking a balance between youth, new faces and experience while giving adequate representation to women.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s estranged nephew Manpreet Singh Badal, who had joined the Congress a few months ago, will contest from the Bathinda Urban Assembly seat, while former Sangrur MP Vijay Inder Singla will contest from the Sangrur Assembly seat.
Party’s Punjab unit Vice President Sunil Jakhar will contest from Abohar, from where he is the sitting MLA, while former deputy chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal will contest from her Lehra Assembly constituency and CLP leader Charanjit Singh Channi from Chamkaur Sahib (SC), from where he is the sitting MLA.
Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi will fight on the Congress ticket from Guru Har Sahai, while former minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa has been nominated from the Fategarh Churian seat.
The ticket for the high-profile Majithia constituency has gone to Sukhjinder Raj Singh Lalli Majthia, while Rana Gurjit Singh will contest from Kapurthala.
Former IAS officer and former Moga Deputy Commissioner Kuldeep Singh Vaid, has bagged the party ticket from Gill reserved constituency.
Three sitting MLAs have been changed under “one family, one candidate rule”.
While Rajya Sabha MP Pratap Singh Bajwa’s wife Charanjit Kaur Bajwa has been replaced with his brother Fateh Jung Singh Bajwa in the Qadian Assembly seat, sitting Nawan Shahar MLA Gur Iqbal Kaur Babli has given way to her son Angad Saini. Twenty-five-year-old Angad Saini is the youngest nominee in the Congress list.