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HindustanTimes Sat,02 Aug 2014

Focus on VIP seats did Cong in: Panel

Manpreet Randhawa, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, June 06, 2014
First Published: 20:25 IST(6/6/2014) | Last Updated: 09:25 IST(7/6/2014)
The five-member Congress panel on Friday said the concentration of some Congress MLAs only in Amritsar and Anandpur Sahib parliamentary constituencies during the Lok Sabha polls could be one of the major factors behind the poor performance of the party in Punjab.
 
The panel headed by Himachal Pradesh cabinet minister Col Dhani Ram Shandil (retd) on the second day of its visit met three more Congress candidates, including Vijay Inder Singla, Mohinder Singh Kaypee and Harminder Singh Gill at the Punjab Congress Bhawan in Chandigarh to know the reasons behind their defeat.
 
Vijay Inder Singla contested from Sangrur, while Mohinder Singh Kaypee and Harminder Singh Gill fought unsuccessfully from Hoshiarpur and Khadoor Sahib Lok Sabha constituencies respectively.
 
Col Shandil, who was also accompanied by other members of the panel, including Haryana cabinet minister Aftab Ahmed, MLA Jaikishan and MLA Devendra Yadav, said his two-day interactions with six party candidates who lost the Lok Sabha polls in Punjab revealed that certain Punjab MLAs campaigned only in Amritsar and Anandpur Sahib parliamentary constituencies, while ignoring all the remaining 11.
 
It may be mentioned that while former Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh successfully contested from Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, Ambika Soni, who was in the fray from Anandpur Sahib, lost the elections.
 
“We need to go deep into this issue instead of just dealing with it on the superficial level. This could be just one of the factors but not the only one for the results which were much below than our expectations,” said Col Shandil.
 
Though Col Shandil said it was too premature to reach to some conclusion on the major reasons behind the Congress party’s not so good performance in Punjab despite a huge anti Akali sentiment in the state, factionalism within the party was also quite well known.
 
“Every organisation or a house has its share of weaknesses but one must not wash its dirty linen in public,” said Col Shandil, who would meet Rahul Gandhi, vice president, AICC on Monday to apprise him about his preliminary feedback.
 
Col Shandil said the panel need to meet more Congress leaders in Punjab in the days to come to understand and give factual feedback to the party high command. “It may take one month or more to prepare a detailed report on the various factors responsible for the Congress’ defeat. We may have to make several visits to Punjab in the days to come to reach to the final conclusion of our feedback,” said Col Shandil.
 
The panel, which began its fact finding job behind the party’s loss in Punjab on Thursday, had already met Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Joginder Singh Panjgraian and PPCC president Partap Singh Bajwa at the Congress Bhawan to know the reasons behind their loss yesterday.
 
Meanwhile, Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha, PPCC general secretary and coordinator of the panel, said that though the panel had also called Preneet Kaur and CLP leader Sunil Jakhar, who lost from Patiala and Ferozepur Lok Sabha seats respectively, they could not come because of their prior appointment with party president Sonia Gandhi on Friday.
 
“Both Preneet and Jakhar promised to appear before the panel whenever it deemed convenient,” said Garcha, while adding that Ambika Soni was away to USA and hence could not make it.
 
Garcha said since Manpreet Singh Badal who contested unsuccessfully from Bathinda Lok Sabha seat was not a party member, he was not there.
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