M A I N   N E W S

Cong banks on tested hands in Haryana
Clears 7 LS candidates * Nod to 3 sitting Punjab MPs
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 7
Faced with the toughest elections ever, the Congress is banking on its trusted lieutenants to win back the Lok Sabha constituencies it currently holds.

The party leadership, it seems, is wary of experimenting in the seats where it has sitting MPs. The party’s Central Election Committee headed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi today approved the names of seven Lok Sabha candidates, including five sitting MPs, in Haryana. Haryana has 10 Lok Sabha seats of which the Congress holds nine.

In Punjab — which has 13 Lok Sabha seats, of which the Congress holds eight — names of three sitting LS candidates have been approved.

These are Preneet Kaur from Patiala, Vijay Inder Singla from Sangrur and Ravneet Bittu from Anandpur Saheb. The latter two are active Youth Congress leaders. “There was unanimity on these names. The rest of the seats are pending and will be taken up in the next CEC meetin to be held on March 12,” said sources.

In Haryana, the CEC cleared the candidature of Naveen Jindal from Kurukshetra; Shruti Choudhary from Bhiwani-Mahendragarh; Arvind Sharma from Karnal; Deepender Hooda from Rohtak and Avtar Singh Bhadana from Faridabad, all sitting MPs.

From Sonepat where sitting MP Jitender Malik has declined to contest, the party is learnt to have approved the name of MLA Jagbir Malik and from Hisar the name of former INLD strongman and Om Parpak Chautala aide Sampath Singh is said to have been cleared.

Although reports suggested that Haryana Congress chief Ashok Tanwar may contest from Ambala (instead of Sirsa from where former MP Sushil Indora could be fielded), top Congress sources said a decision on Ambala was pending along with Sirsa.

Candidature from Gurgaon is also being debated. After the INLD has withdrawn its Muslim candidate from the race, the Congress could consider fielding Haryana minister Aftab Ahmed from the seat considering the segment has around three lakh Muslim Meo votes, sources said.

The Congress leadership is also persuading Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa to contest his sitting Lok Sabha seat from Gurdaspur though he is said to be reluctant.

“We are trying to persuade Bajwa to contest. We can field him from another seat if he is uncomfortable from Gurdaspur,” said a top party source. The decision on Bathinda and Faridkot seats will be announced after the Congress finalises its seat arrangement with Manpreet Badal of the PPP and the CPI in Punjab.

Ludhiana, where Information Minister Manish Tewari is the sitting MP, is among the seats where a decision is pending along with Ferozepur, Jalandhar, Fatehgarh Saheb and Hoshiarpur (where sitting MP Santosh Choudhary is unlikely to be named again). 





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