Congress treats ex-Akali candidates as outcasts, may not get tickets

Amarinder Singh Congress Navjot Sidhu

New Delhi, December 14
Akali leaders who joined Congress recently in Punjab in the hope of tickets are going to be disappointed. Facing flak from his party over pushing recent Akali entrants to the Congress as party candidates in the 2017 state elections, Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh on Wednesday said former Akalis would be fielded only on seats where the Congress did not have nominees of its own.

Speaking at an event to mark the joining of two-time former Akali MP Amrik Singh Aliwal into the Congress here, Amarinder downplayed the differences in the Congress screening committee members on candidates in more than 50 seats saying there was no dispute at all.

Asked why there was a delay in ticket announcements if there were no differences on names of nominees, Amarinder said, “We still have 40 days to go for elections. The tickets will be announced over the next few days. The screening committee is meeting again on Wednesday and then the Central Election Committee chaired by Sonia Gandhi will meet to declare the candidates. I think two lists will be announced.”The screening committee of the Congress for Punjab polls met for the fourth time on Tuesday and sat for over six hours to debate candidates.

Amarinder said the dispute was only in the nature of “whether a father should contest or the son” and was not serious. The chief Congress campaigner for Punjab, Singh, however expressed concern over the delay in ticket distribution saying MLAs and candidates had been camping in Delhi for many days now. “I also want everyone to return to their respective constituencies,” Singh said at his residence, where the gates were out of bounds for close to a dozen ticket hopefuls who were seen standing outside the house in small groups.

There is a severe heartburn in the Punjab Congress over Akalis entering the party at the last minute hoping for tickets for Assembly elections. Some top recent Akali entrants posing a threat to insiders are Pargat Singh, Inderbir Boleria, Mahesh Inder Singh, Sarwan Singh Phillaur, Deepender Dhillon and Rajvinder Kaur.