A day after the Congress announced its candidates for the forthcoming municipal body elections, the differences in the party burst out in the open. Miffed over the denial of tickets to him and his supporters, former mayor Vishnu Sharma along with 17 former councillors held a massive protest here.
Sharma alleged that some elements within the party were trying to kill the Congress in the city. "They have deliberately picked up weak candidates to help the SAD-BJP alliance sweep the elections," he said.
Sharma threatened that his group would field independent candidates in case the party failed to come up with a different list.
The Youth Congress president Vinod Arora also took part in the protest rally. No member from the youth wing figured in the 50-member list announced by the Congress.
Flaying the manner of the distribution of tickets, Sharma said, "The selection committee headed by Jagjt Singh has ignored the deserving candidates. Some of the candidates in the list have no public standing at all."
He said there were nearly 30 candidates in the list who were nobodies in the party. "Most of them don't even know where the district Congress office is," charged Sharma.
He said the whole exercise was an attempt to demoralise the partymen, who were already upset with the loss of the assembly elections.
Most of the protestors held Preneet Kaur, minister of state for external affairs, responsible for the denial of the tickets.
The rebels sought immediate intervention of the Congress president Sonia Gandhi into the issue. "Otherwise the Congress would vanish from the state, as has happened in Uttar Pradesh," they claimed.
After the protest rally, the former mayor held a closed-door meeting with his supporters to chalk out their further plan of action. About six former councillors have also threatened to contest against the official candidates.
Vishnu Sharma said that he would disclose his cards on Friday. "But it is certain that if they don't change the list, we will field 'real' Congress candidates to keep the party alive in the city."
Despite several attempts the state party president Captain Amarinder Singh could not be contacted for his comments.
He had earlier claimed that he had ironed out the differences within the party over the distribution of the tickets.
"If they don't change the list, we will field 'real' Congress candidates to keep the party alive in the city," said former mayor, Vishnu Sharma.