Thursday, December 20, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Ticket seekers throng Cong Bhavan
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
Intense lobbying, unprecedented enthusiasm besides a visible show of strength by each aspirant for the party ticket for the coming assembly elections notwithstanding, the mood at Punjab Congress Bhavan in Sector 15 here has been upbeat.

Cutting across faction loyalties, two panels of senior leaders of the Congress started interviewing the prospective candidates to set in motion the second phase of shortlisting of the party nominees here this morning. While one of the panels is headed by the PPCC chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, himself, the other is chaired by a former Union Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr Raghunandan Lal Bhatia.

Also on the four selection panels are sitting party MPs — Mr Jagmeet Brar, Mrs Parneet Kaur (wife of the PPCC chief), Mrs Santosh Chaudhary, Mr Raghunandan Lal Bhatia, Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, Mr Shamsher Singh Dulo, Mr Balbir Singh and Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib — besides several former MPs, including Mrs Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, Mr H.S. Hanspal and Mr Surinder Singla. Mr B.K. Hari Prasad, a secretary of the All-India Congress Committee, is here as the party observer.

Mr Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, ex-officio general secretary of the State Election Committee, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Ch Jagjit Singh (Leader of the Opposition) and Mr Ashwani Kumar (Member, AICC) are among others on the interview panels which interacted with 715 applicants for 72 assembly constituencies today.

Thick fog and chilly weather notwithstanding, Punjab Congress Bhavan was a beehive of activity from early in the morning, much before the interviewing of the candidates started. Supported by their overenthusiastic supporters, initially only the aspirants were allowed entry into the bhavan for interview.

Gradually, the ardent supporters of the “heavyweight” candidates, including their family members, started trickling into the bhavan premises. The atmosphere looked relaxed. By early afternoon, hundreds of cars had lined up on either side of the Madhya Marg stretch dividing Sectors 15 and 11. Congress Bhavan was overflowing with party workers.

Name any prominent Punjab Congressman, he was there. A large number of former Ministers, legislators and even MPs were also there. Some of the aspirants were carrying their resume and others the constituency profiles and even their election plans to impress the interviewers.

This is for the first time that this exercise is being undertaken by the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee on instructions from the All-India Congress Committee. “Had the party high command not decided to charge an application fee, the crowd would have been unmanageable,” remarked a senior party leader, maintaining that workers at the grassroots level were so enthused that they insisted on accompanying their respective candidates even when told that they would not be allowed either to raise slogans or enter the bhavan. “Still they came to tell the party high command that the masses were with them,” he added.

The interviewing mainly focussed on the contribution of the aspirant, his or her standing in the party, his or her chances of winning, besides a few other areas , including how he or she would go about “marketing” the policies and programmes of the Congress.

Mrs Lakhwinder kaur Garcha, general secretary, PPCC, said that the applicants from the assembly segments of the Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Jalandhar, Phillaur, Hoshiarpur, Ferozepore and Ropar parliamentary seats were interviewed today.

A number of new faces connected with various social and voluntary organisations and with a “clean” background staked their claim to the party ticket from various assembly constituencies.

The exercise of interacting with the applicants has revealed the response of the people regarding the bright prospects of the party and enabled the State Election Committee to assess various constituencies besides determining the strength of political opponents of the Congress,” said Mr Rajesh Singh, secretary (media), PPCC.

The interaction with the aspirants for the remaining 45 assembly seats would be held tomorrow.Back

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