Punjab polls: Cong readies first list of candidates, 90 of 117 seats cleared | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Punjab polls: Cong readies first list of candidates, 90 of 117 seats cleared

chandigarh Updated: Dec 11, 2016 20:16 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh

New entrants into the Congress, such as Navjot Kaur Sidhu (right) and and former Olympian Pargat Singh (left), with Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh (centre).(PTI file)

The Congress has picked candidates for 90 of 117 assembly seats in Punjab that goes to polls early next year.

The party’s central election committee, chaired by Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday, cleared a majority of seats barring those on which a consensus has not yet been reached among committee members.

Before it fights the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Congress is busy battling internal opposition on some key seats between its high-profile leaders.

The panel has decided to first clear seats of Congress candidates and those of new entrants from other parties who have come directly through the party high command such as Navjot Kaur Sidhu, Pargat Singh and Manpreet Badal. All three are likely to get the seats of their preference.

On the remaining seats, the screening panel headed by former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot and comprising Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh, party affairs in-charge Asha Kumari and team of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi -- Harish Chaudhary, Rajiv Satav and Meenakshi Natrajan -- will hold more deliberations, with involvement of key leaders.

In Ludhiana, it is an open tussle between former union minister Manish Tewari and incumbent MP Ravneet Bittu, who won the seat after Tewari shied away from contesting in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Tewari is keen to contest Ludhiana East seat. But Bittu and Ludhiana West MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu, both close to Rahul, are opposing the move.

For Bathinda Urban, there is a keen contest between two former state finance ministers, Surinder Singla and Manpreet Singh Badal. While Amarinder is batting for Singla on the plea that it is a Hindu-dominated seat and both SAD and AAP have fielded Hindus here, Manpreetis learnt to have got a direct assurance for the seat from Rahul himself.