January 23, 2022 3:14:11 am
The second list of Congress candidates for upcoming Assembly elections has been delayed due to lack of consensus, and the party’s Central Election Committee (CEC), headed buy Sonia Gandhi, that met virtually Saturday asked the screening committee to go back and send a panel of single candidate each.
The Congress is yet to release its second list of candidates for 31 Assembly segments. The screening committee had sent panels of at least two candidates for each of these segments. Out of 31 seats, 13 are with party and the Congress is finding it difficult to drop them.
Sources said that as the CEC started discussing the candidature for Bhoa, having Joginder Pal as sitting MLA, Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and former PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar came up with opposing views. While Jakhar is learnt to have opposed Pal’s candidature, Channi is learnt to have said that “some people were articulate in keeping their point but the underlying fact was that Pal was former PPCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa’s candidate and hence they are opposing him,” a source said.
To this Jakhar is learnt to have said that he was only for giving an opportunity to new faces. PPCC chief Navjot Sidhu is also learnt to have supported this argument.
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A similar discussion took place on the candidature of sitting MLA from Khemkaran Sukhpal Bhullar. “It was then that AICC leader Rahul Gandhi told the screening committee to go back and come with a consensus on all seats,” said a source adding that the list has been delayed. The screening committee has been asked to meet AICC organisation secretary KC Venugopal. “The list is now delayed. It suits us anyway,” a leader said.
The Congress has been holding on to the second list waiting for Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies, former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s Punjab Lok Congress and SAD (Sanyukt) to announce candidates for these 31 seats. The BJP and the Akali faction announced candidates on 13 out of 31 seats, leaving the Congress still worried for 18 seats. The Congress has been feeling that its rejects may switch over to BJP for want of a ticket. The Congress’ fears were confounded as its reject from Garhshankar, Nimisha Mehta, was nominated by the BJP on Friday.
Also, the BJP nominated former Congress minister and sitting MLA Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi from Ferozepur (city). An aide of former CM Amarinder Singh, Arvind Khanna, who had quit Congress ahead of 2017 elections, and who announced his re-entry into active politics by joining BJP recently, was nominated from Sangrur. He will take on sitting minister Vijay Inder Singla. Both the constituencies will now see a tough battle with Congress MLA from Ferozepur Parminder Singh Pinki facing his former colleague Rana Gurmit Sodhi.
Nimisha, who is an aide Channi, and had nurtured Garhshankar for many years, is likely to give a tough fight to Congress nominee and former Punjab Youth Congress president Amarpreet Singh Lally. A senior Congress leader told The Indian Express that Channi was pushing the party for a rethink in her case but she joined the BJP in a jiffy. “Now, nobody knows how BJP is accepted by the people of Punjab,” said the leader.
After Nimisha imbroglio, the Congress is wary and does not want to send any more leaders the BJP way. Party’s sitting MLA from Moga Dr Harjot Kamal has also joined BJP. He was, however, not nominated by BJP in the first list.
The Congress is yet to announce candidates from Attari, Ferozepur (rural), Gill, Shutrana, Fazilka, Jalalabad, Amargarh, Khemkaran, Bhoa, Samrala, Nawanshahar , Khadoor Sahib , Patiala, Batala, Banga, Kharar, Sahnewal, Jagraon, Guru Harsahai, Dera Bassi, Dirba, Sunam, Bhadaur, Barnala , Mehal Kalan, Muktsar, Nakodar, Ludhiana South, Kotkapura, Jaitu and Sardulgarh. While BJP announced eight candidates from the “tricky’ seats of Congress, the SAD (Sanyukt) announced five candidates.
The BJP candidates include retired IAS officer SR Ladhar from Gill, former minister Surjit Kumar Jyani from Fazilka, Puran Chand from Jalalabad, Mohan Lal Banga from Banga, Kanwar Narinder Singh from Jagraon, Sanjeev Khanna from Dera Bassi, Rajesh Phatela from Muktsar and Jagjit Singh Milkha from Sardulgarh.From Dirba, SAD (Sanyukt) has fielded Soma Singh Gharachon (SAD), from Sunam it has nominated Sanmukh Singh Mokha, from Mehal Kalan it has chosen Sant Sukhwinder Singh Tibba, from Jaitu a former MP Paramjit Kaur Gulshan from from Sahnewal it is Harpreet Singh Garcha.
Of the “tricky constituencies” the Congress has sitting MLAs including Tarsem DC from Attari, Satkar Kaur from Ferozepur (Rural), Kuldip Vaid from Gill, Nirmal Singh Shutrana from Shutrana and Davinder Singh Ghubaya from Fazilka. Others are Raminder Awla from Jalalabad, Surjit Singh Dhiman from Amargarh, Sukhpal Bhullar from Khem Karan, Joginder Pal from Bhoa, Amrik Dhillon from Samrala, Angad Singh from Nawanshahar, Ramanjit Sikki from Khadoor Sahib.
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