Friday, May 17, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Ashwani Kumar is Congress nominee for RS from Punjab
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 16
The President of the All-India Congress Committee, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, tonight nominated Mr Ashwani Kumar, a Supreme Court advocate, rooted in the Majha belt, as the party nominee for the lone Rajya Sabha seat from Punjab, byelection which will be held on May 30.

Tomorrow is the last day of filing nomination.

Though election of Mr Ashwani Kumar, son of former Congress stalwart Prabodh Chandra, is a foregone conclusion, his nomination has upset the applecart of many a senior Congress men, including a couple of former MPs, who had been in the run for party’s nomination. He comes from a family of freedom fighters and staunch Congress men.

His nomination has brought to an end speculation over the party’s candidate for the seat vacated following the resignation of Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder after his election to the state Assembly from Sardulgarh.

Among those in the run of the party nomination were Mrs Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, Mr H.S. Hanspal, Mr Venod Sharma, Mr Mohinder Singh Gill , Mr Varinder Kataria, Mr Iqbal Singh and Mr Sant Ram Singla besides a few others.

The chances of the SAD, staying away from the election cannot be ruled out as it has nothing at stake. So far there has been no indication from either the SAD or its alliance partner, BJP, in contesting the election.

Mr Ashwani Kumar, Chairman of the Vichar Vibhag and former spokesperson for the AICC, was a member of the party think tank which executed various plans and programmes for the success of the Congress in the last Assembly elections.

His proximity to Mrs Sonia Gandhi clinched the issue in his favour at the last minute.

He will arrive here tomorrow morning to file his nomination papers.

He made his base in Gurdaspur, his hometown, and worked for the triumph of the party in the Majha belt where earlier the Congress was wiped out in the 1997 Assembly elections.

The Punjab Pradesh Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh has called all members of the Congress Legislature Party to be present at the time of filing of nomination papers.

The PPCC chief is also expected to reach here in the morning.


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