The Congress's central election committee on Saturday decided to field a fresh face and a Sikh hardliner Harminder Singh Gill from Khadoor Sahib, while retaining its sitting Lok Sabha MPs from Patiala, Sangrur and Anandpur Sahib for the Lok Sabha elections.
Third time member of Parliament (MP) and union minister of state for external affairs Preneet Kaur will vie for a record fourth victory from her traditional citadel Patiala, while the first-time MPs and young faces of the party, Vijay Inder Singla and Ravneet Singh Bittu, will again jump into the fray from Sangrur and Anandpur Sahib seats, respectively, which they represent in Parliament at present.
With this, the battlelines are now clearly drawn in these four Lok Sabha constituencies where it will be a direct contest between the Congress and the ruling Akali Dal, which has already announced the candidature of its 10 candidates. There are 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab and as per their seat distribution formula the BJP will contest three seats -- Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur.
In the February 2012 assembly polls, the Congress's Khadoor Sahib candidate, Gill, had almost put cabinet minister Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, son-in-law of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, from the Patti constituency on the mat. Gill lost to Kairon by 59 votes. Gill has been a member of the All India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF) and had spent a couple of years under detention in Jodhpur after Operation Bluestar. Pitted against him will be SAD stalwart Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, who is also contesting the Lok Sabha elections for the first time.
Cong fields 5 MPs, 2 MLAs in Haryana
The Congress central election committee declared seven candidates, including five sitting parliamentarians and two sitting legislators, for the coming Lok Sabha elections in Haryana.
The sitting MPs cleared for nomination are Arvind Sharma from Karnal, Naveen Jindal (Kurukshetra), Shruti Choudhry (Bhiwani-Mahendragarh), Deepender Hooda (Rohtak), and Avtar Singh Bhadana (Faridabad).
Jagbir Malik, sitting legislator from Gohana, is cleared to fight from Sonepat, as sitting MP Jatinder Malik has declined to contest. Nalwa legislator Sampat Singh was named from Hisar, a seat from where Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) leader Kuldeep Bishnoi is MP.
The candidates for the remaining three seats (Ambala, Sirsa and Gurgaon) will be announced later. Haryana Congress president and sitting MP from Sirsa Ashok Tanwar is likely to get ticket from Ambala, a seat won in 2009 by Kumari Selja, who will not contest because she has been nominated to the Rajya Sabha.
In case Tanwar shifts to Ambala, former Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) MP Sushil Indora could be party's candidate from Sirsa.
The Congress central election committee also is yet to finalise the candidate for Gurgaon, from where rebel leader Rao Inderjit had won in 2009. Hunting for a fresh face after Inderjit's exit, it may field Chiranjiv Rao, son of Haryana power minister Capt Ajay Singh Yadav.Candidates from Punjab
Preneet Kaur (Patiala)
Ravneet Singh Bittu (Anandpur Sahib)
Vijay Inder Singla (Khadoor Sahib)
Harminder Gill (Sangrur)
Candidates from Haryana Arvind Sharma (Karnal)
Naveen Jindal (Kurukshetra)
Shruti Choudhry (Bhiwani-Mahendragarh)
Deepender Hooda (Rohtak)
Avtar Singh Bhadana (Faridabad)
Jagbir Malik (Sonepat)
Sampat Singh (Hisar)