After fielding its top guns, former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh and Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa, in the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress on Monday tried to pitch for unity by rehabilitating some of its “stalwarts” as heads of the campaign and coordination panels for Punjab.
In a belated move to stem infighting and appease its dissenting leaders, the party appointed former Punjab CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal chairperson of its campaign committee and made former CWC (Congress Working Committee) member Jagmeet Brar, who had been denied ticket, co-chairman.
Former Punjab finance minister Surinder Singla, who has been denied ticket from Ludhiana, has been appointed convener. In the 2009 polls, Amarinder was the campaign committee head and the party clinched eight of the 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
To give SCs and OBCs due representation, another former PCC chief Shamsher Singh Dullo has been rehabilitated as president of the party’s election coordination committee for Punjab. Former Punjab finance minister Lal Singh, who hails from a Backward Class, has been appointed co-chairman.
The other SC faces on the coordination panel are Dina Nagar legislator Aruna Chaudhary and Paramjit Singh Kaith.
The 19-member campaign committee and 11-member coordination panel include many who were denied ticket. Patiala (rural) MLA Brahm Mohindra, who too was in the ticket race for Ludhiana, has been made a part of the coordination panel, while Captain Vikram Singh, who was eyeing the ticket from Gurdaspur, Harminder Jassi, who has been denied the Bathinda ticket and Rana Gurmeet Sodhi, who wanted to contest from Ferozepur, have been accommodated on the campaign panel.
The party has also tried to assuage those opposed to Congress candidates such as MLA Harchand Kaur and former MLA Razia Sultana, both of whom are learnt to be not “cooperating” with Sangrur MP Vijay Inder Singla’s campaign, besides those sidelined in the rejig of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) such as former Amritsar (urban) president Jugal Kishore Sharma and professor Darbari Lal.
The seemingly neutral MLA Charanjit Channi finds mention on the list but Bajwa has been able to keep out hardcore Captain loyalists such as MLAs Kewal Dhillon and Arvind Khanna, whose assembly segments all fall in the Sangrur parliamentary segment.
Bajwa has been able to put his stamp on both panels through confidants such as MLA Randeep Nabha, DR Bhatti and Rajanbir Singh (campaign committee) and MLA Parminder SPinky, Raja Warring and Hansraj Joshan (coordination panel).
Former CM Beant Singh’s family has been accommodated on the coordination panel through his son, Tej Prakash, and Bhattal through son-in-law, Vikram Bajwa.