The Congress’ move to give the high profile Bholath ticket to lightweight candidate Ranjit Rana has made the party almost a defunct unit in the segment as the entire senior leadership has offered support to Aam Aadmi Party’s Sukhpal Khaira.
Rana is the second candidate, the Congress announced, from the seat after the first nominee, Gurbinder Atwal, denied contesting from the seat after sensing a landslide defeat. He joined the Congress three months back and earlier remained close to local SAD leader Bibi Jagir Kaur.
After ticket to Rana, the entire senior Congress leadership, after holding out a meeting at PPCC secretary Avtar Singh Walia’s support officially extended their support to AAP candidate Khaira.
As per reports, the entire senior leadership is sitting in their homes and Rana, who is the president of a self-styled local truck union, is forced to run the campaign single-handedly.
All local prominent leaders, who have opposed Rana’s candidature, include PPCC secretaries Pritam Singh Sikri and Avtar Singh Walia and Shirnivas Kuku (all local ticket aspirants) and the entire block and district Congress leaders from the segment.
Notably, Khaira, who is a former Congress leader, has the history of fighting for their followers, had already left the Congress paralysed in the constituency as he took along many senior leaders.
“First Atwal, who was an outsider, was given the party ticket and he fled from the segment. Now, the party high command has given the ticket to Rana, who while remaining close to Bibi Jagir Kaur, was instrumental in registering false cases against the Congress leaders, including me. What option we are left with?” questions Walia.
He, however, clarified that they have not joined the AAP and the move to give support to Khaira was taken as they were left with the no other option. Sources said even another ticket aspirant Kulwinder Babbal has also extended support to Khaira.
The party high-command, sources said, has also left the seat in lurch as there is no effort from the party side to placate the annoyed senior leadership. They added that when the ticket was allotted to Atwal, PPCC chief Captain Amarinder Singh personally called few PPCC secretaries from the segment to support Atwal.
SAD IN TIZZY, KHAIRA UPBEAT
The reports of the Congress getting weak in the segment has put the Akali Dal in a tizzy in the segment as the poll managers of the party candidate Yuvraj Bhupinder Singh, son-in-law of senior SAD leaders Bibi Jagir Kaur, are now compelled to change the strategy.
“A strong Congress would have suited us the most and in the strong triangular contest, SAD would have strong chances.
However, shifting of the entire Congress rank and file towards Khaira is a cause of concern,” admits senior leadership, managing SAD election affairs in Doaba region.
“What bankruptcy the Congress had in the segment that they gave the ticket to Rana. I am thankful to the Congressmen for extending support to me as my motive is also to end Bibi’s Jungle Raj in the area,” Khaira said.