Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh could not manage ticket for his staunch supporters, including former Union Minister Manish Tewari and his close aide BIS Chahal’s son, even as his push for former SAD MLA Inderbir Singh Bolaria worked to get him nominated.
The party, with just one day left for filing of nominations, announced its last three candidates – Bolaria from Amritsar (South), Sanjeev Talwar from Ludhiana (East) and Dr Manju Bansal from Mansa. With this, Congress completed its ticket distribution process, last major political party to do so.
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Bolaria had faced protests by Congress leaders from Amritsar, who have accused him of getting false cases registered against them.
Jasbir Singh Dimpa, a strong contender for the Congress ticket from the same constituency, was dropped despite general secretary in-charge Asha Kumari pushing for it.
Manish Tewari’s candidature could not get through in the face of a strong protest by Ludhiana MP Ravneet Bittu. Tewari was seeking ticket from Ludhiana (East). It turned out to be a victory for Bittu, a confidant of AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi, whose aide and Ludhiana-based councillor Sanjeev Talwar was nominated from the segment. Tewari had met Amarinder at his Delhi residence a few days ago. The party, however, decided against him.
Tewari has been supporting Amarinder even when Partap Singh Bajwa was the Punjab Congress president. Tewari supported Amarinder even after Rahul Gandhi had visited Punjab and snubbed the leaders protesting against Bajwa.
Amarinder also could not get a ticket for his long-time aide and former media advisor BIS Chahal’s son Bikram Inder Singh Chahal. He was active in Mansa for last six months and distributing spectacles to the poor under his Chahal Welfare Trust programme.
The party chose Mangat Rai Bansal’s wife Dr Manju Bansal. Mangat Rai had quit Congress to join SAD. Later, Amarinder had banned his entry into Congress after he was convicted by a CBI court for supplying substandard rice to FCI.
While Mangat Rai’s name was considered, strong opposition to his name owing to the taint forced the Congress to field his wife.
With Bolaria, the party has named nine side-switchers as its candidates. Besides Bolaria, they include SAD MP Sher Singh Ghubaya’s son Davinder Singh Ghubaya from Fazilka, Pargat Singh from Jalandhar (Cantt), Navjot Singh Sidhu from Amritsar (East), Deepinder Dhillon from Dera Bassi, Harry Mann from Sanaur, Kamaljit Karwal from Atam Nagar, Rajwinder Kaur from Nihalsinghwala, Pritam Kotbhai from Bhucho Mandi and Deepinder Dhillon from Dera Bassi.