Even after holding back a part of list of at least six nominees fearing rebellion in the ranks, Congress was faced with dissenting notes from various quarters after releasing its second list of 16. Last election’s nominee from Gurdaspur, Raman Behl, who was first among those to revolt against former Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa and organise one of the first contact programmes for Capt Amarinder Singh, said he was a disappointed man. Behl was ignored as Barinderjit Pahra was nominated by the Congress.
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“Pahras have been hand-in-glove with Akalis. They have always worked against my family of dyed-in-wool Congressmen. Do they think I will garland them?” said an angry Behl, indicating he could contest as an Independent.
In Sunam, Congress leader Rajinder Deepa protested against party’s nominee Daman Thind Bajwa announced today. His workers staged a dharna outside AICC headquarters in Delhi. Deepa produced reports in which drug lord Raja Kandhola, arrested by Delhi Police in 2013, had indicated his “friendship” with Daman Bajwa’s husband Harman Bajwa.
Bajwa’s candidature got another aide of Amarinder upset. Surjeet Singh Dhiman, who was fielded from Amargarh, wanted to contest from Sunam. But when the tickets were announced today, he wrote on his Facebook profile that he would not contest election as it was too late for the party. Amarinder, it is learnt, got into fire-fighting and placated Dhiman. The latter was not available for comments. His aide Mohd Issa said he would contest.
All this despite that fact that the party did not release the entire list of 22 on Friday. Amarinder had, a few days ago, stated that the second list of 22 would be released.
Sources said while the party had cleared nominees from Jalandar (Cant), Nakodar, Shahkot, Amritsar (East), Dera Bassi and Bhoa, it was not releasing the names as it wanted to delay the aftershocks as most of these had potential turncoats. In some cases, Bajwa was opposing the chosen nominee. Jalandhar (Cant) is represented by former Akali MLA Pargat Singh, Amritsar (East) by Navjot Kaur Sidhu.
Only two sitting MLAs have not been given the tickets yet. They include the seniormost MLAs Lal Singh from Sanaur and Rakesh Pandey from Ludhiana (East). Lal Singh, sources say, has given an ultimatum to the party to name his son from Samana, against Amarinder’s one-family-one-ticket diktat. Pandey was once close to former CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. A survey report about his prospects does not seem to be favouring him.
Of the 16 candidates announced today, eight are Jat Sikhs and not a single Hindu. Only two are women. In its first list of 61, as many as 24 were Jat Sikhs and 11 were Hindus.