Congress names Punjab poll panels, Ajay Maken screening chief

Charanjit Singh Channi, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Sunil Jakhar ex officio members | Partap Bajwa manifesto panel head

Congress names Punjab poll panels, Ajay Maken screening chief

The Congress on Monday formed committees for the upcoming Punjab elections.

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 6

The Congress on Monday formed committees for the upcoming Punjab elections. It named AICC general secretary Ajay Maken head of the committee for screening prospective candidates and former PCC chief Sunil Jakhar campaign committee chief. Maken was involved in the consultative process that finalised the appointment of Charanjit Channi as CM.

He will be assisted in the screening committee by former Youth Congress chief Chandan Yadav and IYC in-charge Krishna Allavaru.

Ex officio members of the screening committee are CM Channi, Jakhar, AICC in-charge for Punjab Harish Choudhary, PCC chief Navjot Sidhu, and AICC secretaries in-charge of the state. Forming four election committees — coordination, campaign, manifesto and screening — Congress president Sonia Gandhi signalled the party’s readiness for the elections, which are set to be multi-cornered.

Five-time Rajya Sabha MP Ambika Soni is chairperson of the coordination committee, while former PCC chief Partap Bajwa will head the manifesto panel. The appointments mirror the Congress intention of reaching out to Hindu voters — a segment currently perceived as distant from the party which has consolidated the Scheduled Caste base by elevating Channi. Today’s appointments involve three Hindu faces — Soni, Jakhar and Maken. The inclusion of Jakhar in the election screening panel is equally important.

The party hopes to strengthen its presence among Hindus with the Aam Aadmi Party wooing them actively. Of the 80 MLAs the Congress has, 13 are Hindus, the highest among all parties. The party realises it must hold on to this segment to power its edge in the state.

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