M A I N   N E W S

Bhattal, Ambika strong contenders for Cong ticket
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 9
If reports reaching the Congress headquarters are anything to go by, then Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and AICC general secretary Ambika Soni top the popularity charts among the contenders for the Lok Sabha poll from the state.

Congress sources said the party had received requests from the party’s district and pradesh committees, stating that Ms Bhattal be fielded from Sangrur in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. A similar request has been made for Ms Soni for the Hoshiarpur seat, it was stated.

It was stated that the ongoing corruption case against Ms Bhattal do not seem to have dented her popularity with the party workers from the Sangrur constituency insisting that she was the only person who would be able to put up a strong fight here.

Alternatively, it is believed the move could be sponsored by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh who might like his arch rival to shift her attention away from the state.

AICC general secretary Ambika Soni appears to have emerged as a strong contender for the Hoshiarpur seat given the requests coming in for her candidature. The sitting MP, Charanjit Channi, is stated to have fallen foul of the AICC as he is believed to have worked against the official party candidates in the Assembly poll.

Ms Soni, who is a Rajya Sabha member, is also learnt to be keen on contesting the Lok Sabha election. She has been eyeing the Hoshiarpur and Ferozepore constituencies. However, no final decision has been taken so far as the party leadership has yet to get down to the task of selecting candidates.

Whatever the final line-up of candidates, the present scenario in Punjab does not appear to be very encouraging for the Congress. Party leaders admit they will have to pay a heavy price for the recent lengthy spell of infighting in the state party unit. Despite the rapprochement brought about by the AICC, it appears the show of unity in Punjab Congress is only a facade as the Chief Minister and Bhattal groups remain hopelessly divided.

The AICC leadership is reconciled to a better showing by the Shiromani Akali Dal which, they feel, will be wrest a number of seats from the Congress. According to the party’s internal assessment, there are at least five constituencies which will prove particularly tough for the Congress this time. These include Tarn Taran, Sangrur, Gurdaspur, Faridkot and Bathinda.


Poll Quotes

Cong attitude generally irresponsible and always negative

— Lal Krishna Advani

Vajpayee is Baanke Bihari of Mathura

— Uma Bharti

What do they have besides Vajpayee?

—Sonia Gandhi

Statues do not make one the sole leader of the State

— Venkaiah Naidu

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