The Congress on Saturday released its first list of 86 candidates, including 58 sitting legislators, for the February 14 assembly elections in Punjab.
Chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi, Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu, deputy chief ministers Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and OP Soni, cabinet ministers Manpreet Singh Badal, Vijay Inder Singla, Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Pargat Singh and Amrinder Singh Raja Warring and Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa are among the prominent party leaders on the list and have been repeated from their present seats.
Cabinet minister Brahm Mohindra’s son Mohit Mohindra has been fielded from Patiala Rural, which the veteran leader represents in the present assembly.
Four sitting MLAs denied ticket
The party has denied the ticket to four of its sitting MLAs – Harjot Kamal Singh from Moga, Balwinder Singh Laddi from Hargobindpur, deputy speaker Ajaib Singh Bhatti from Malout and Nathu Ram from Balluana.
Sonu Sood’s sister Malvika from Moga, Moosewala from Mansa
Sonu Sood’s sister Malvika Sood Sachar has been fielded from Moga. Singer Sidhu Moosewala is also on the list of candidates from Mansa. Both are new entrants to the party.
Punjab has 117 assembly constituencies.
Screening committee differed on Sujanpur, Moga, Garhshankar
The Congress central election committee headed by interim president Sonia Gandhi finalised the names of candidates on the basis of recommendations made by the screening committee set up under party national general secretary Ajay Maken. The candidate selection was not without its usual set of hiccups with Sidhu, Channi, Jakhar and Punjab affairs in-charge Harish Chaudhary pushing their own favourites.
The screening committee had made its recommendations to the CEC after half a dozen meetings but these members voiced their differences when these names came up for discussion on Thursday for final decision. The CEC confirmed the names of most of those recommended and asked the screening committee to hold discussion on five seats, including Sujanpur, Moga and Garhshankar, on which there was no consensus among the state leaders. The screening committee held fresh discussions and recommended a single name for these seats, paving the way for the party to release the list after approval after the Congress president’s nod.
Sidhu, Channi push for CM face beforehand
Since the party has not named any chief ministerial face and is going into the elections under the “collective leadership” of Channi, Sidhu and Jakhar, all three have been jockeying for the lion’s share of party tickets, which might come into play in deciding the new CM if the party is able to get the numbers required to retain power in the state. Both Sidhu and Channi are pushing for declaring the chief ministerial face beforehand, pitching themselves for the position.