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Amarinder on Cong LS poll shortlist for Bathinda
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 2
Former Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh is among other senior state Congress leaders being considered as a candidate for the forthcoming Lok Sabha election from Bathinda.

Several members of the party’s Punjab election committee have favoured his candidature, say sources.

The segment is currently represented by Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal’s wife Harsimrat Badal.

Congress sources said there was a consensus in the committee that all party stalwarts from Punjab, including state president Partap Bajwa, former Lok Sabha MP Jagmeet Brar, former state chiefs Rajinder Bhattal and Shamsher Singh Dullo, and MP Mohinder Kaypee should contest elections.

The sentiment of the committee was discussed at the first meeting of the Congress’ central screening committee for LS candidature in Punjab.

The meeting held yesterday under the chairmanship of senior Congress leader PC Chacko finalised a panel of three to five candidates for each of the five parliamentary constituencies that the party did not hold currently in the state. These are: Bathinda, Amritsar, Faridkot (SC), Ferozepur and Khadoor Sahib. Discussions on the eight segments with sitting Congress MPs will take place after the forthcoming Parliament Session.

Sources said Capt Amarinder’s name formed part of the first shortlisted panel of candidates from Bathinda segment. His son Raninder had unsuccessfully contested the 2009 parliamentary elections from the segment against Harsimrat. A senior Congress leader said: “We had asked all 29 Punjab election committee members to indicate five preferences in each of the five non-Congress LS segments and three in each of the Congress LS segments.

“A number of members have named Capt Amarinder as their top preference from Bathinda segment. Members have said all senior Congress leaders from Punjab such as state Partap Bajwa, Rajinder Bhattal, SS Dullo and Jagmeet Brar should contest from suitable seats. Discussions are on. In all, we have received 124 applications.”

Former Rajya Sabha MP and state Finance Minister Surinder Singla and former MLA Harminder Jassi are also learnt to be on the list for Bathinda. Singla had unsuccessfully contested the LS byelection against BJP’s Navjot Sidhu from Amritsar in 2007.

Jassi wields influence among Dera Sacha Sauda followers since his daughter is married to spiritual leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s son.

From Ferozepur, sources said, the panel included Jagmeet Brar; sitting Gidderbaha MLA Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, who defeated Akali rebel and People’s Party of Punjab chief Manpreet Badal in the 2012 state elections; legislators Rana Sodhi and Parminder Pinky; and Hans Raj Joshan, who independently contested the last state elections against Sukhbir Badal from Jalalabad. Joshan has since returned to the Congress and was recently made state general secretary.

Senior leaders ‘must’ contest

  • There is a consensus in the Congress’ Punjab election committee that all party stalwarts from the state should contest the Lok Sabha elections, say sources
  • They include state president Partap Bajwa, former Lok Sabha MP Jagmeet Brar, former state chiefs Rajinder Bhattal and Shamsher Singh Dullo, and MP Mohinder Kaypee

Both Capt, wife may join poll fray

The Congress seems to be open to the possibility of both Capt Amarinder Singh and his wife Preneet Kaur contesting the Lok Sabha elections on the party ticket. A senior party leader said: “There would not be a problem if Capt Amarinder wants to contest. Even today his wife is an MP while he is an MLA.”





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