From a beneficiary of dynastic politics in the Congress, women have now become the first casualty. The list of 61 candidates released by the Congress on Thursday has three sitting women MLAs making way for men in the family as the party brought in the new rule of “one family, one ticket” before ticket allotment and decided to stick to it.
Preneet Kaur, wife of Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh, has opted out from family seat of Patiala (urban) as Amarinder tries to lead by example. Though the party surveys did not adjudge her “winnability” vis-a-vis her husband, Preneet, in words of party’s Punjab affairs in-charge Asha Kumari was a “great candidate to field from any seat”.
In case of Qadian MLA Charanjit Kaur Bajwa, there was a fight between two brothers for the father’s legacy. Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa, the elder son of former Punjab minister Satnam Singh Bajwa, went on to become a state minister and Lok Sabha MP in 2009. But differences cropped up within the Bajwa family after younger brother Fateh Jang Bajwa was denied a ticket to contest Qadian in the 2012 state polls as Partap lobbied in favour of wife Charanjit. This time round, the “one family, one ticket” rule came to Fateh’s rescue and Charanjit opted out.
Like the two others, third woman MLA on the list — Guriqbal Kaur — too was the beneficiary of dynastic politics in the Congress. She had entered politics on the eve of the 2012 Punjab polls when her husband, Sitting Nawanshahr MLA Parkash Singh, had passed away. A reluctant politician for five years, Guriqbal Kaur was busy grooming her son to take over the mantle. Her 25-year-old son, Angad Saini, has barely qualified for contesting the 2017 Punjab elections and to no one’s surprise, he is the youngest on the first list.
Interestingly, both Charanjit and Guriqbal were adjudged as “winnable” candidates in the party surveys. The only male MLA to make way for family is Raikot’s Gurcharan Singh Boparai, whose brother, Amar Singh, a former bureaucrat, has been fielded.
The party has, however, taken care to ensure at least 10% of the candidates in the first list of 61 are women. Three of them of sitting MLAs — Rajinder Kaur Bhattal will contest her seat Lehrargaga, Aruna Chaudhary from Dinanagar and Harchand Kaur from Mehal Kalan. The three others in the list are Satkar Kaur — a candidate shortlisted by Rahul’s team last time and again this time who had lost the Ferozepur (rural) seat by a slender margin — Razia Sultan, a former MLA who will again contest Malerkotla and Ranjit Kaur Batti from Budhlada.
Among youth faces, half ‘sonrises’
The new rule of the Congress to allot not more than one ticket to a political family has seen some “sonrises” more out of compulsion than choice. Other than Guriqbal Kaur, who has opted out for her son, former Punjab minister Sardul Singh has made way for his son Sukhwinder Singh Danny from reserved seat of Jandiala and former state minister Inderjit Zira for his son Kulbir Zira from the Zira seat. Since the party has announced to field youth on at least 30 seats, former Panjab University student union president Dalvir Singh Goldy has bagged the Dhuri seat and Khushbaaz Singh Jattana the Talwandi Sabo. Two youth candidates, Lakhwinder Lakha and Satkar Kaur, who had lost the 2012 polls by a thin margin, have been re-nominated.