The Congress is facing a siege within following rebellion over ticket allotment for the January 30 elections, but the BJP is sitting pretty even after changing 33% candidates.
Though state Congress leaders are downplaying the rebellion as “initial reaction”, the party think tank knows the magnitude of discontent has eclipsed rival Shiromani Akali Dal’s encounter with similar turbulence and become the talking point.
Congress has announced candidates in all 117 seats and is reportedly facing varying levels of rebellion in more than 30 constituencies. The rebellion has forced the party to change candidates in three seats.
“Yes there are some initial reactions but those will calm down in due course of time. By and large the list (of tickets) has been very good,” said Captain Amarinder Singh, the state Congress president.
He admitted many constituencies had more than one deserving candidate with the potential to win. “It was a really difficult choice to make.” He has assured those denied tickets of suitable rehabilitation if Congress wrests power from the SAD-BJP alliance.
Senior Congress leaders are now busy reaching out to rebellious leaders and activists.
The Congress preoccupation with internal strife is helping the ruling SAD. Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has inflicted the first psychological blow by inducting the state Congress chief’s younger brother Malwinder Singh.
On Monday, SAD gave ticket to another Congress rebel Sant Singh Brar from Gidderbaha, from where People’s Party of Punjab chief Manpreet Singh Badal, the estranged nephew of the CM, is contesting.
The BJP, meanwhile, is looking more surefooted in the absence of rebellion. The SAD ally is contesting 23 seats and has managed to keep dissidence at bay after distributing the tickets.
The party has changed eight candidates including four sitting MLAs, but heartburn aside, no one has spoken out against the official nominees in public.
BJP vice-president and in-charge of Punjab affairs Shanta Kumar said, “We have conveyed to all that being denied a ticket is not the end of the world. The party has a lot more to offer. We will adjust all in future as per their performance and stature.”