Chandigarh, December 15: The Congress decision makers have stuck to the norms of winnability and one ticket per family while releasing the first list of 61 candidates that carries the names of almost all the party heavy weights. The list also presents new faces while balancing it with experience. Winnability seems to have weighed while selecting the candidates as it is a do or die contest in Punjab with effective third dimension having been added for the first time in the Aam Aadmi Party. It is a matter of survival for the Congress and Punjab could be the launching pad for the party to retrieve its lost space at the national level. Women have been given adequate representation.
The heavy weights who find their place in the first list include state party chief Capt. Amarinder Singh (Patiala), Manpreet Singh Badal (Bathinda Urban), CLP chief Charanjit Singh Channi (Chamkaur Sahib), former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal (Lehragaga) and Sunil Jakhar (Abohar).
New faces include Kulbir Singh Zira (Zira), Khushbaj Singh Jatana (Talwandi Sabo), Dalvir Singh Goldy (Dhuri), Balwinder Singh Laddi (Sri Hargobindpur), Tarsem Singh DC (Attari) and Angad Saini (Nawan Shahar).
In all, 31 sitting MLAs have been retained in the first list while adding seven new faces besides eight ex-MLAs, six and one ex-MP in Vijay Inder Singla from Sangrur. Singla also represents the Hindu face. Effort has been made to give due representation to every section in the state.
The party had worked during the last few days on the potential rebels to placate them. There were multiple aspirants from majority of seats.
Dr Amar Singh, retired IAS, replaces his brother Gurcharan Singh Boparai from Raikot (reserve). Kuldip Singh Vaid is another former IAS officer who has been fielded from Gill (reserve). He had recently resigned from IAS.
Majithia constituency would be in focus among the main constituencies in Punjab. The Congress has put up Sukhjinder Raj Singh Lalli Majthia against heavy weight Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia in the triangular contest with Himmat Singh Shergill being AAP’s sacrificial goat from AAP. Shergill has been shifted to Majitha from Mohali. Earlier, he had lost in the Lok Sabha election from Anandpur Sahib to Prem Singh Chandumajra of the Akali Dal.
Of the six women in the fray in this first lot, four have been fielded from reserve constituencies of Ferozepur Rural (Satkar Kaur), Mehalkalan (Harchand Kaur), Budhlada (Ranjit Kaur Batti) and Dina Nagar (Aruna Chaudhary). Both Harchand Kaur and Chaudhary are sitting MLAs. The other two women in the fray are Razia Sultan from Malekotla and Rajinder K Bhattal, sitting MLA from Lehragaga.
Angad Saini (25), is the son of sitting MLA MLA Guriqbal Kaur, and is also is the youngest nominee in the Congress first list. Kulbir Singh Zira is the son of Congress Kisan Cell chairman and former MLA Inderjit Singh Zira, from Zira.
The party is still grappling with the problem of accommodating the turncoats. Prominent among them include Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu, sitting MLA from Amritsar East who shifted from BJP and Pargat singh, sitting Akali Dal MLA from Jalandhar Cantt and Inderbir Singh Bolaria, sitting Akali MLA from Amritsar South.
Fateh Jang Singh Bajwa replaces his sister-in-law and sitting MLA Charanjit Kaur Bajwa from Qadian. He is the brother of Rajya Sabha MP and former state party chief Partap Singh Bajwa.
The Congress has given one more chance to Harminder Singh Gill from Patti who had lost to Akali Dal’s Adaish Partap Singh Kairon by a few votes in 2012 election. This is the area that had witnessed strong protests against sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib when the Harike bridge remained block for five days.
The Congress campaign had come to a standstill with the ticket aspirants camping in Delhi for about three weeks. The party would have to pick up the momentum again. Sources maintained that the remaining seats too would be cleared within the next two days. The exercise for the remaining seats continues. Among the heavyweights, it is Lal Singh whose seat has not been cleared in the first list as the choice has to be between him and his son.