With Congress Screening Committee deferring its decision on finalising the names on Bathinda and Ferozepur parliamentary constituencies, adopting a wait-and-watch policy to “outsmart” rival Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the race within the party for the tickets to the two seats has picked pace.
On Thursday, the screening committee, comprising Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, state party president Sunil Kumar Jakhar, general secretary in-charge Asha Kumari and senior leader KC Venugopal, finalised names for at least 10 seats of the 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab. The decision on Bathinda and Ferozepur was deferred. The committee felt that they should wait for the Akalis to field their candidates.
Akali Dal has been sending feelers that they would field former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal from Ferozepur and his Union Minister wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal from Bathinda.
With the decision pending, Punjab Sports minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, who is also a claimant for the ticket from Ferozepur, Friday invited leaders from the constituency for lunch. Former MLA Mohinder Rinwa, former Punjab minister Hans Raj Joshan and senior leader Satkartar Kaur attended the lunch. Several leaders from the constituency are scheduled to meet the Chief Minister Saturday and seek nomination of Rana Sodhi from Ferozepur. “I want former SAD MP Sher Singh Ghubaya out of the reckoning. So I will go with Rana Sodhi,” said one of the leaders.
Rana Sodhi is considered close to the CM.
Meanwhile, Cabinet Minister Vijay Inder Singla, who was earlier an MP from Sangrur, is learnt to have conveyed to the party that he was not a claimant from Sangrur anymore, thereby paving the way for another Amarinder aide, Kewal Singh Dhillon. Dhillon has already started campaigning aggressively in Sangrur.
Sources said at the screening committee meeting, Amarinder had his way on most of the names on the plea that he was backing winnable candidates and that the party was not looking at “pleasing leaders” but at numbers. He backed Dhillon strongly at the meeting and his name was finalised by the panel, said sources. The ball is now in the court of Central Election Committee, which will meet on April 2.
Amarinder is also learnt to have backed former Union Minister Manish Tewari for Anandpur Sahib while ditching his another close aide and political secretary Capt Sandeep Singh Sandhu. Jakhar was backing Sandhu but the panel finalised Tewari, sources in the know of the development .
The panel finalised Dr Amar Singh for Fatehgarh Sahib and Dr Raj Kumar Chabbewal for Hoshiarpur. Chabbewal is Amarinder’s pick. Another Amarinder pick, Jasbir Singh Dimpa, is likely to get ticket from Khadoor Sahib. A police officer Rajinder Singh, who is yet to resign as DCP Jalandhar, has been finalised from Faridkot. Three MPs, including Jakhar, Ravneet Singh Bittu and Chaudhary Santokh Singh, are likely to be retained from their respective constituencies. While these names have been empaneled, the final call will be taken by CEC on April 2.