Nearly six months after Sukhpal Singh Khaira deserted the Congress and joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the state Congress unit, led by Captain Amarinder Singh, is yet to find a replacement for the firebrand leader from the Bholath assembly constituency in the Pradesh Congress Committee.
Resentment is brewing among local workers over non-inclusion of any leader from the segment in the jumbo PCC announced last month.
“It’s demoralising for party cadres. Ever since Khaira joined the AAP, we were hoping to get his replacement. But the party has failed to induct even a single leader from Bholath in the PCC. This can harm the party, especially when the 2017 assembly elections are round the corner,” said a senior party leader, pleading anonymity.
Among the hopefuls were Preetam Singh Cheema, Avtar Singh Walia, Balwinder Multani and former MLA (member of legislative assembly) Jagtar Singh Multani.
“We hope that Captain will give due representation to Bholath in the second list as currently local leaders and workers are feeling like orphans. Here, the Congress has to face giant such as sitting MLA Bibi Jagir Kaur and Khaira. We urge the Punjab Congress chief to look into this aspect,” says Cheema, a Jat Sikh leader, who is also eyeing the assembly ticket.
There was speculation that the party wants former MLA from Khadoor Sahib Ramanjit Sikki to take charge of Bholath as he has been appointed as constituency in-charge.
However, Sikki’s mentor and Kapurthala MLA Rana Gurjit Singh rubbished all such reports. “Sikki has asked the PPCC chief to give him charge of Kapurthala. Sikki will contest from Khadoor Sahib only,” said Rana.
Bholath is a stronghold of Jagir Kaur, who enjoys a strong clout, and against whom even Khaira has lost three of the four assembly elections.