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Churn and firefight: Congress in full-throttle damage control after first-list tremors…

🔴 While Sidhu welcomed Vishnu Sharma back into the party in Patiala Monday, Bangar was inducted into Congress by Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh |
January 18, 2022 5:03:16 am
Punjab, Punjab latest news, Punjab assembly elections, Punjab polls 2022, Charanjit Singh Channi, Ashu Bangar, former Patiala Mayor Vishnu Sharma, indian expressCM Charanjit Channi welcomes AAP’s Amandeep Ashu Banger into party fold. He later said Banger will contest from Ferozepur Rural constituency.

After its first list of candidates triggered a storm in the party, the Congress on Monday went aggressively into damage control mode as it poached AAP’s Ferozepur candidate Ashu Bangar, got former Patiala Mayor Vishnu Sharma to rejoin Congress after ditching Akali ranks and also got its Majitha leader, Bhagwant Pal Singh Sachar, back into party fold.

While Sidhu welcomed Vishnu Sharma back into the party in Patiala Monday, Bangar was inducted into Congress by Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi.

Sachar, who had joined BJP on Sunday, was wooed back by Majha brigade comprising Deputy CM Sukhjinder Randhawa, Panchayat and Rural Development Minister Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, and Housing Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria.

The party is also working to placate former MP Mohinder Singh Kaypee, who had staked claim on Adampur seat, but the party has given the ticket to former BSP leader Sukhwinder Singh Kotli.
Congress has faced a revolt from half a dozen leaders after the first list.

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Moga MLA Dr Harjot Kamal joined BJP soon after he was denied ticket and Congress nominated actor and philanthropist Sonu Sood’s sister, Malvika Sood.

Two ticket aspirants from Garhshankar, including Channi’s aide Nimisha Mehta and former two-time MLA Luv Kumar Goldy, quit Congress Sunday and Monday, respectively.

Mehta joined BJP and Goldy joined Amarinder Singh’s Punjab Lok Congress.

Former Jails Minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur and his son, Damanvir Singh Phillaur, also quit Congress and joined Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa’s Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukta) on Monday.

Chief Minister’s brother, Dr Manohar Singh, had on Sunday announced that he will contest against Congress nominee and sitting MLA Gurpreet Singh GP from Bassi Pathana.

Channi told media on Monday that he would sort that issue also as a CM and as a brother.

He said, “Ours is a joint family. We have been staying together. In our family, we have clarity. My brother is a MD, he was SMO in Bassi area. MLA Gurpreet Singh GP got him transferred. He was upset and he quit his job. Then people wanted him to contest. GP is also my like my brother. We will sort this out. There is no problem in my family. I am with my brothers and my brothers are with me. I will rise to the expectations of both,” he said.

Channi added that they were trying to placate Kaypee also. “His issue is justified but we will sort that out also,” he said while not commenting on whether the Congress was replacing the party nominee with Kaypee or not.

Cabinet minister Rana Gurjit Singh’s son, Rana Inder Singh, has also announced that he would contest against party nominee from Sultanpur Lodhi, Navtej Singh Cheema.

The Congress is also facing a challenge as it has to take a call on 13 more sitting MLAs, most of who are not faring well in their surveys. The 13 MLAs, who have so far not been renominated in the first list are Tarsem DC from Attari, Davinder Singh Ghubaya from Fazilka, and sitting MLA Satkar Kaur from Ferozepur (rural).

The party taking Ashu Bangar from AAP on Tuesday is an indication that Ashu may get the ticket leaving Satkar Kaur high and dry.

Raminder Awla from Jalalabad is seeking to be shifted to Guruharsahai, though it is not final yet.

Kuldeep Singh Vaid is seeking to be moved from Gill constituency to Jagraon.

Shutrana MLA Nirmal Singh Shutrana’s surveys have not been up to the mark, said sources.

Surjit Dhiman from Amargarh also wants to shift to Sunam, and surveys on Sukhpal Bhullar from Khem Karan also are not good, sources added. His father or brother are being considered as alternative.

Joginder Pal from Bhoa and Amrik Dhillon from Samrala also haven’t been nominated in the first list.

Angad Singh from Nawanshahar was also not on the first list. His wife, who is a legislator in UP, joined BJP after quitting Congress recently. But sources said that may not come in his way.

Ramanjit Sikki’s ticket from Khadoor Sahib is also on hold as sitting MP from the area, Jasbir Singh Dimpa, has staked his claim on the ticket. After the party allots tickets on these seats, it may face trouble yet again.

In order to keep the flock together, the Punjab Congress on Monday nominated 39 spokespersons comprising an MP, MLAs and many other leaders. The jumbo list of spokespersons has been released for the first time. The spokespersons include Cabinet minister Dr Raj Kumar Verka, MP Dr Amar Singh his son, Kamil Amar Singh, MLAs Kuldip Singh Vaid, Dr Raj Kumar Chabbewal, Amit Vij, Avtar Henry Junior and others. Punjab Youth Congress chief Brinder Singh Dhillon is also on the list.

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