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Posted at: Mar 11, 2019, 7:09 AM; last updated: Mar 11, 2019, 7:17 PM (IST)LOK SABHA ELECTION 2019

Will run your campaign, don’t say no, Amarinder urges Manmohan

Will run your campaign, don’t say no, Amarinder urges Manmohan
Manmohan Singh and Capt Amarinder at a gurdwara. File photo

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 10

Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh today called on former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and urged him to contest from the Amritsar parliamentary seat in the single-phase May 19 Lok Sabha elections in the state.

Accompanied by Congress incharge for Punjab affairs Asha Kumari and Punjab Pradesh Congress chief Sunil Jakhar, Capt Amarinder told the former PM that the state organisation unanimously wanted him to run from the historic seat and that the state unit would be honoured should he accept the proposal.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi is reportedly in favour of the idea of fielding the former Prime Minister for the  Lok Sabha elections with the party convinced that Dr Singh’s presence will boost its prospects not only in Punjab but across India too.

Manmohan Singh is learnt to have smiled when Amarinder urged him “not to say no to the suggestion and think it over”. The former PM said he was retired and too old to run an election campaign. He also said he was grateful for the proposal but too frail to accept it. 

At this juncture, Capt Amarinder is learnt to have told Dr Singh, “All you have to do is file your nomination papers. I take full responsibility for your campaign and will run it personally. I will camp in Amritsar. Please don’t say no. Please think it over.”

Amarinder Singh had defeated BJP stalwart Arun Jaitley comprehensively from Amritsar in the 2014 LS polls. Congress’ Gurjit Aujla again won the seat in a byelection when Capt Amarinder vacated it to head the state government.

Punjab Congress chief Jakhar also appealed to the former PM to contest on the plea that it would energise the party cadre and give voters a chance to compare Dr Singh’s credentials with those of incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Earlier today, the proposal to ask Dr Singh to fight from Amritsar was discussed at a meeting of the Congress screening committee for Punjab candidates.

Attended by AICC general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal, Asha Kumari, Capt Amarinder and Jakhar, the meeting resolved that Dr Singh be persuaded to fight from Amritsar after Rahul Gandhi approved the proposal on the condition that the final decision would be left to Dr Singh. 

As regards Punjab Congress’ ‘Mission 13’, the screening panel did not reach any conclusion with Capt Amarinder claiming the Congress would win all 13 seats. He didn’t disclose the names of any potential nominees.

It is learnt that the Congress is in no hurry to declare its Lok Sabha candidates in Punjab where the elections have been scheduled at the fag-end of the election cycle. Screening panel members, however, met some senior Punjab leaders today to get a feedback. Among them was Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa , who reasoned that his claim to the Gurdaspur seat be considered since he had long nurtured the constituency. 

Jakhar is the sitting Gurdaspur MP. Bajwa wants him to return to his old seat 

Ferozepur. Former minister Santosh Choudhry, a frontrunner for the party ticket from Hoshiarpur ( where Raj Kumar Chhabewal and Pawan Adia are also applicants), met the party’s screening panel today.

Other leaders whom the committee met were Punjab Health Minister Brahm Mohindra, whose son Mohit is an applicant from Bathinda; sitting Jalandhar MP Choudhry Santokh and senior leader Rajinder Bhattal. The latter is seeking the Sangrur ticket. So is Kewal Dhillon. The screening panel will meet other senior leaders before finalising a short list of candidates to be approved by the Rahul Gandhi-led central election committee. 

Meanwhile, Gujarat’s Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel will join the Congress in Ahmedabad on March 12 in the presence of Rahul Gandhi.  The Congress will be holding its working committee meet there on that day.

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