The Congress has finalised 72 candidates to be fielded in the forthcoming assembly polls and the first list of the party is likely to be released on Wednesday, say party sources.
Most of the 42 sitting MLAs are expected to get tickets from their constituencies. “Party’s central elections committee has cleared the names of 72 candidates and a formal nod from the Congress president Sonia Gandhi is awaited,” said a senior party leader. The party has also directed all 72 candidates to start campaigning in their segments, said sources.
Meanwhile, learning a lesson from the 2012 debacle, when the party rebels spoiled the game, the Congress is treading with caution this time. The party is working overtime to quell the possibility of a rebellion. The party has identified 15 seats where rebels could upset the Congress applecart.
The party may invite trouble on seats from where leaders from other parties have joined and are sitting MLAs. The Congress wants to field new entrants from the same seats from where they were elected in the 2012 polls. Senior party leaders are in touch with local leaders and are trying to pacify them to keep the Congress flock together.
The party is focussing on the Jalandhar Cantt seat where it wants to field former Akali MLA Pargat Singh, who recently joined the Congress. The party is likely to shift Jagbir Brar — who has been preparing ground for himself for the past many years in Jalandhar Cantt — to Nakodar. Sources say Brar is not willing to contest from Nakodar. “We are trying to placate him,” said a Congress party.
Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh had already announced that local and party leaders would get preference in ticket allotment and those coming other parties would be fielded where party has no winning candidate. A party insider revealed that delay in announcement of ticket was a tactic to check the rebellion.
Similarly, Navjot Kaur Sidhu, who won from the Amritsar East seat as a BJP nominee is likely to be Congress nominee from the same seat this time. Congress’ Sunil Datti, who lost the 2012 polls, and Dinesh Bassi are also aspiring for the party ticket from this segment. Sources say one of them may turn rebel and party is making efforts to placate them.
Ferozpur Akali MP Sher Singh Ghubaya’s son Devinder Singh, who is expected to join the Congress, is seen as the party’s candidate from Fazilka, but local leaders are opposing his entry.
Former Akali MLA Inderbir Singh Bolaria is likely to be the Congress nominee from Amritsar (South) seat from where party leaders Harjinder Singh Thekedar and Jasbir Dimpa are also vying for the ticket.
“We are making efforts to quell the rebellion. Our aim should be to see the Congress form the government in Punjab. Those who don’t get tickets will be suitably adjusted,” said former CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.