Turncoats from the Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP — who have joined Congress in the months leading up to the 2017 assembly elections in the state — have not just rankled old-timers but also delayed the party’s plans to declare candidates well ahead of the polls.
Elections are likely to be held in the state next month and going by the party’s original plan — when it roped in strategist Prashant Kishor to structure and organise the Congress’s electoral bid — candidates were to be declared by the end of 2016. Of the 117 seats to be contested, 40 names are yet to be declared. Party sources say Congressmen have offered strong resistance to giving tickets to those who joined the party to seek tickets delaying the announcement.
“All Congress leaders in the state want tickets to be decided faster,” former Punjab finance minister Lal Singh said. Singh has been asked to give up his claim for the Sanaur seat that he won last time if he wants a ticket for his son, Rajinder Pal Singh, from adjoining Samana.
While he refused to comment on the party’s decision to restrict the number of tickets to one per family, sources close to Singh said the party ought not to have favoured former Akalis over old-timers. “Giving tickets to turncoats has not gone down well with the rank and file. Ultimately, it is Congress workers and not Akalis who have to work in the election for us,” a Congress MP said.
The party is considering giving the Phillaur seat to ex-Akali Sarvan Singh instead of former state youth Congress chief Vikramjit Chaudhary. In Amritsar East, Navjot Kaur Sidhu is likely to edge out another former youth Congress leader, Jasbir Singh, sources in New Delhi confirmed.