M A I N   N E W S

Rumblings grow in party after denial of ticket
Sarbjit Dhaliwal/TNS

Widespread resentment

n Several senior leaders annoyed over ticket allotment in Amritsar to Jasbir Singh Dimpa, Ashwani Kumar Pappu
n Fissures in the Gidderbaha unit of the party
n In Jalalabad (Fazilka), ex-Congress minister Hans Raj Josan, says that genuine claims ignored

Chandigarh, January 6
Agitated over the denial of tickets for the state Assembly elections scheduled for January 30, several Congress leaders have raised the banner of revolt against the party. Reports of rebellion have come in from across the state.

One of the reasons for widespread visible and invisible resentment among Congress leaders is the allotment of tickets to close relatives of senior party leaders. In fact, in Patiala district, three close relatives have been allotted tickets to contest from adjoining constituencies.

Ashok Sharma, former Congress MLA from Pathankot, resigned from the primary membership and also other posts. He announced that he would contest election as the Independent candidate. He was party MLA from 2002 to 2007 and had sought a ticket to contest from Pathankot constituency. However, the ticket has beel allotted to Raman Bhalla. “I will contest to fight against corrupt system in politics,” he said.

A report from Amritsar says that several senior leaders are annoyed over the allotment of party tickets. In Amritsar (South), the party chose Jasbir Singh Dimpa over two strong contenders - former MLA Harjinder Singh Thekedar and Navdeep Singh Goldy. Similarly, in Amritsar (North), the party opted for Ashwani Kumar Pappu while ignoring the claims of former MLA Jugal Kishore Sharma and Karamjit Singh Rintu.

There is also a possibility of a rebel entering the poll fray in Amritsar (East) as there were 17 aspirants for party ticket. The party preferred Simpreet Kaur Bhatia, a political greenhorn, over them. Thekedar and Goldy have already expressed their displeasure on being sidelined. They said they will reveal their future strategy after holding parleys with their supporters.

Fissures have developed in Gidderbaha unit of the party over allotment of party ticket to a youth leader Amarinder Warring “Raja”, whom the ticket aspirants have termed an outsider. Late last night, the party high command in Delhi finalised Raja’s name to contest Assembly elections against political heavyweight and PPP chief Manpreet Singh Badal from Gidderbaha. However, the decision has faced a stiff opposition from local Congress leaders, including former MLA Raghubir Singh “Pardhan” and senior leader Sant Singh Brar, who were among the front-runners in competition with Raja to get the ticket. Both have decided to oppose Raja.

Talking to The Tribune, Sant Singh Brar said, “Raja is an outsider so we’ll not support him. A 10-member committee has been formed, which will decide the future course of action.”

A report from Faridkot said new entrant to the Congress Kushaldeep Dhillon is unhappy over denial of ticket. When asked, Dhillon said ,“If I say I am not unhappy, then it will not be true.” He, however, clarified that the allocation of ticket was the prerogative of the party leadership and he would campaign for party nominees.

About 20-days ago, Dhillon, the former SAD(B) MLA from Faridkot and one of the founding members of the PPP, was instrumental in a major split in the PPP after he joined hands with Captain Amarinder Singh. An assurance from the PPCC chief that he would be allotted ticket from Faridkot or Kotkapura constituency failed to materialise as the family of former CM Harcharan Singh Brar declined to surrender their claim on Muktsar seat.

In Jalalabad (Fazilka), former Congress minister Hans Raj Josan alleged that the Congress had ignored his genuine claim even as he stood by the party through thick and thin. He alleged that party had entered into “deal” with Sukhbir Singh Badal to fielding a “weak” candidate against him (Badal). Thus, the party had put up a political greenhorn. Name of Josan, who was candidate from Jalalabad constituency, had earlier been “cleared”, but it was later dropped. Josan has warned the Congress high command to review its decision within two days failing which his supporters would have to chalk out their own strategy.

Similarly, more than half a dozen keen ticket aspirants have expressed resentment over the allocation of ticket to former MLA Mohinder Rinwa from Fazilka Assembly constituency.

Deepinder Singh Dhillon, who failed to secure ticket for Dera Bassi constituency, said he would contest as an independent candidate. Dhillon, who is also a Preneet Kaur loyalist, has been nursing the Dera Bassi constituency as a Congressman for the last 20 years.

There is discontentment among the newly elected team of Punjab Youth Congress. Though the Congress high command allotted ticket to five youth leaders, none from among the elected leaders was the recipient. The Youth Congress president had sought ticket form Aadampur but he was denied it. Other prominent ticket aspirants were Sukhwinder Danny, Sukhpal Bhullar, Gurvir Bhattal and Amar Preet Singh Lally.

In Ludhiana, 23 Congress workers have served an ultimatum to the party high command to rethink the decision to allot ticket to Malkit Singh Birmi Atam Nagar constituency. They alleged that Birmi got ticket even if he had not applied for it.

Angry over the allotment of ticket to former MLA Nathu Ram from Malout constituency, former MLA Baldev Singh Ballamgarh announced that he would contest as an independent candidate.

Denied ticket from Amritsar (Central), Prof Darbari Lal, former Deputy Speaker of Punjab Vidhan Sabha, said, "I have asked the party to reconsider its decision as it will hurt the party”. He said he would decide his future strategy after holding talking with his supporters on reaching Amritsar.

In Ludhiana, seven Congress councillors have condemned the decision to allot ticket to former MLA Surinder Dawar from Ludhiana Central. Terming it "anti-democratic", they have threatened to quit the party along with six former Congress councillors.

(Inputs from Perneet Singh, Umesh Dewan, Archit Watts, Praful Nagpal, Balwant Garg, Dharmendra Joshi, Puneet Pal Singh and Shivani Bhakoo)





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