The Congress screening committee for Punjab will meet again Friday in Delhi to discuss the probable candidates for remaining seven Lok Sabha seats in state, including the contentious Bhatinda and Ferozepur constituencies where the Akali Dal is yet to name its candidates.
The committee, comprising Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, state party chief Sunil Kumar Jakhar, general secretary in-charge Asha Kumari and senior leader KC Venugopal had prepared a panel after shortlisting the probables during the last meeting. The Central Election Committee, however, ruled out the names in seven constituencies while clearing that on six others.
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After shortlisting the names, the screening committee will meet party president Rahul Gandhi in a day or two and run the list past him. It remains to be seen if Punjab CM is able to push his choices through on a number of seats.
The screening committee, sources in the party said, has a taken a call on Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu’s wife Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu. Sidhus Wednesday said that they were not interested in contesting from any seat other than Chandigarh.
“We do not know what will happen. If she contests against Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, she will defeat her with a huge margin. People want to witness such a contest. She would be the most formidable candidate against Harsimrat. Rest is to be decided. May be some top leader can ask her to contest,” said a Congress leader privy to the developments.
The leader said Navjot Kaur would not need Sidhu’s support in the constituency. “He can continue with his campaign. She handled Sidhu’s campaign in Assembly elections in Amritsar (East) while he was campaigning all over Punjab. She can handle it. This should not be an issue,” said another leader.
The screening committee is likely to take a call on the fate of other leaders like Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, who is unwilling to contest, Sports Minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, who is a claimant from Ferozepore – Amarinder is backing him while Jakhar is opposing his candidature. The others whose fate is to be decided are Manish Tewari, an aspirant from Anandpur Sahib, Dr Amar Singh, an aspirant from Fatehgarh Sahib, Jasbir Singh Dimpa from Khadoor Sahib, and Kewal Dhillon, an aspirant from Sangrur.