With no surprises, the Congress Friday announced its second “safe list” of 16 candidates, among them six sitting MLAs, including a liquor baron and president of Indian Youth Congress, three first-timers, including a woman and sons of two former ministers. The party dropped two SC legislators, Tarlcohan Singh Soond from Banga who hit headlines recently for hurling a shoe at Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia in the Assembly, and Joginder Singh Panjgrain from Jaito.
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Sukhpal Singh Bhullar, fielded from Khem Karan segment, is son of former minister Gurchet Singh Bhullar and Chaudhry Surinder Singh, nominated from Kartarpur, is son of former minister and a close aide of Amarinder late Chaudhary Jagjit Singh. Jagjit’s nephew Vikram Chaudhary was a strong contender from Kartaprur, represented by SAD MLA and former Jails Minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur.
The MLAs who were nominated include Indian Youth Congress president Amrinder Singh Raja Warring from Gidderbaha, Karan Kaur Brar from Muktsar, liquor baron Amrik Singh Dhillon from Samrala and former minister Jagmohan Singh Kang from Kharar.
While two SC MLAs lost their tickets, others like Kang and Brar, who were “not doing very good in surveys” were finally nominated. Their tickets were not included in the first list as the party was thinking of their fate as lobbying was on in AICC headquarters in Delhi. Similarly, Warring wanted to change his constituency to Muktsar and Dhillon’s grandson Karan Dhillon was also in race for the ticket.
In place of Soond, the Congress has given the ticket to a former BSP leader ex-MLA and ex-MP Dr Satnam Singh Kainth. Sitting MLA and folk singer from Bhadaur (reserved) Mohd Sadiq has been fielded from Jaito, represented by Panjgrain. Sitting MLA from Bhucho Mandi Ajaib Singh Bhatti has been fielded from Malout (SC). Only those MLAs belonging to the reserved category were allowed to shift their segments.
Three first-timers named in today’s list are Barinderjit Singh Pahra from Gurdaspur, Daman Thind Bajwa from Sunam, both youth Congress leaders, and Sukhpal Bhullar from Khem Karan.
In former SAD minister Jagir Kaur’s Bholath, the party has fielded a Jat Sikh leader from Doaba, Gurbinder Singh Atwal. Congress’s firebrand leader Sukhpal Khaira from Bhlaoth is now an AAP candidate.
From Balachaur, a close aide of Manpreet Badal, Darshan Singh Mangepur, has been fielded. With party’s last-time candidate from Bathinda (rural) Makhan Singh not keeping well, Harvinder Singh Laddi, a former SAD leader, has been nominated. Former BSP leader Nirmal Singh Nimma will be contesting from Bhadaur.
From Amargarh, party’s 2012 candidate Surjeet Singh Dhiman has been nominated. A few hours before announcement of ticket, he created a furore writing to the party that he would not contest election if the ticket was delayed. His close aide Issa Mohd said he would contest the election.
Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh said the tickets were given on winnability alone, although he had earlier stated that at least 50 per cent MLAs would lose their seats this time as they were not doing well on surveys.
As of now, only two MLAs have been dropped on the basis of surveys. Three sitting MLAs, Preneet Kaur, Charanjit Kaur Bajwa and Guriqbal Kaur, had passed on their seats to their relatives in the first list. With the second list of 16, the party has announced 77 candidates so far.