Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee mulls pitting top leaders against Opposition heavyweights

Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee mulls pitting top leaders against Opposition heavyweights

The proposal floated by a section of the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) to make the party heavyweights contest against top Opposition leaders in their Assembly seats is slowly gaining ground. - File photo

Ravi Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 19

The proposal floated by a section of the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) to make the party heavyweights contest against top Opposition leaders in their Assembly seats is slowly gaining ground. A top party leader, known for his proximity to AICC big wigs, confirmed “that the high command was not at all averse to the suggestion.”

Facing infighting and anti-incumbency, observers claimed pitting a heavyweight against a heavyweight was the only way to keep the party afloat in the 2022 elections. “We need to do some out-of-the-box thinking as far as devising our electoral strategy is concerned as survey reports do not paint a rosy picture for the party. Top names pinning down bigwigs like Sukhbir Badal in Jalalabad or Bikram Majithia in Majitha is not at all a bad idea. In this way, these leaders will be confined to their respective seats and will not be able to campaign in other segments,” he said.

The precedence being cited pertains to the 2014 General Election when four senior politicians — Capt Amarinder Singh, Partap Singh Bajwa, Sunil Jakhar and Ambika Soni — were virtually forced to contest.

“All these leaders were reluctant. Amarinder had even told Sonia Gandhi that he was more interested in state politics. However, his plea did not cut much ice as Sonia asked him to reach Amritsar and file his nomination papers. Likewise, Partap Bajwa told his seniors that he had no chance of winning because of the pro-Modi wave sweeping the country. His assertions were overruled and he was asked to contest against BJP heavyweight Vinod Khanna from Gurdaspur. Similarly, former union minister Ambika Soni and ex-PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar were made to fight from Anandpur Sahib and Ferozepur respectively,” said an MLA.

Despite the fact that the move had boomeranged with just Capt Amarinder winning his seat, the AICC may go ahead with the proposal this time. “We cannot compare 2014 with 2022. The conditions then were different from what they are now. In 2014, the Congress was still well entrenched in national politics. The party had many options available to it and it was in a position to experiment. This time, with a fast eroding base taking such a gamble has become more of a necessity rather than an option,” said a source.

Tribune Shorts


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