New Delhi, January 13
Congress president Sonia Gandhi-led central election committee of the party met in virtual mode on Wednesday evening to finalise candidates for the February 14 Punjab elections.
The CEC membership includes former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi, AK Antony, Ambika Soni, KC Venugopal, Girija Vyas, Janardan Dwivedi, Mukul Wasnik, Veerappa Moily and Mohsina Kidwai.
The Tribune has learnt that Manmohan Singh, on account of frail health, is not attending the CEC meeting on Punjab.
The former PM has not been attending the CEC meetings for other poll-bound states as well.
Around 60 to 70 seats of Punjab are learnt to be in the clear with the meeting underway at 9 pm.
Punjab Congress campaign committee chairman Sunil Jakhar is learnt to have joined the meeting from abroad where he has had to travel due to domestic exigency.
The meeting is expected to clear, among other candidates, actor Sonu Sood’s sister Malvika Sood from Moga.
The candidature of Sidhu Mossewala, a Congress ticket aspirant from Mansa, will be discussed, said sources.
The party is expected to first clear the majority of sitting MLAs including the candidatures of top leaders Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, Punjab Congress chief’s Navjot Singh Sidhu, ministers and former state unit president Partap Bajwa.
Sources said the issue of a chief ministerial face in Punjab may also come up for discussions given the recent remarks by the CM and Sidhu.
While the CM said the party should declare a CM face because it has always won whenever a face has been declared before elections, Sidhu said the people of Punjab and not the party high command will decide the Punjab CM.
These remarks, Congress insiders say, are at variance with the decision in the screening committee meetings to fight elections under a collective leadership.
Sources said the screening committee decided that posters of CM Channi, Sidhu and Jakhar should be used in equal measure to give Congress an inclusive appeal in the state.
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