The “one family, one ticket” diktat has not deterred the kith and kin of Congress leaders from throwing their hat in the election ring. In fact, the promise of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Punjab state chief Captain Amarinder Singh of giving at least 30 seats to youths has resulted in three generations of political families applying for the ticket.
The list of the nearly 1,600 ticket applicants – higher than 1,450 in 2012 polls – has mostly youths. The last date for submitting applications ended on August 15.
Belying expectations that the new norm of “two voters per booth” for ticket aspirants will bring down the number of contenders – Amarinder had said the norm would weed out non-serious candidates – the promise of more seats to youth, more Hindu faces in urban seats and only “one family, one ticket” has led to a jump in the numbers.
Interestingly, the “one family, one ticket” rule in some cases has grandfather, son and grandson all trying their luck. Samrala MLA Amrik Dhillon (74) has applied from his seat, so has his son Kamaljit Dhillon (52) and grandson Karanvir Dhillon, 25. Amrik says everyone has a right to apply and it is up to the party high command to choose who they want to field. “If they do not want to field a 74-yearold like me, they can choose my son. If they want a young face, they can choose my grandson,” he adds. While Kamaljit has been a treasurer of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), Karanvir is an MBA from the UK.
The other father-son duo in the list of aspirants are PPCC vice-president Lal Singh and his son Rajinder Singh. While Lal Singh has applied for his Sanour seat, his son has applied for the Samana seat in Patiala district.
When contacted, Lal Singh said, “Both me and my son have applied. It is up to the party to decide if I, he or we both are winnable candidates. “The Samana seat was in 2012 polls unsuccessfully contested by Amarinder’s son Raninder Singh, who has not applied for a ticket nor has Amarinder’s wife and Patiala (urban) MLA Preneet Kaur. Amarinder is the only applicant from this seat this time too.
SBS Nagar MLA Guriqbal Kaur, who was allotted the ticket after the demise of her husband Parkash Singh before the 2012 polls, has applied from her seat, so has her son Angad Singh. The 25-year-old says he used to look after his mother’s constituency. “If the party decides to field a young face, it can choose me and if a woman, it can choose my mother,” he said. Guriqbal is learnt to be keen to pass the baton on to her son.
Then, there are some old pairs. Senior leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has applied from her seat Lehragaga and her son-in-law Vikram Bajwa from Sahnewal.
There is also some change in paring within the family. In Qadian seat, Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa’s MLA wife Charanjit Bajwa has not applied for the ticket and has left it for her brother-in-law Fateh Jang Bajwa.
But, some “son-rises will have to wait. Guru Har Sahai MLA Rana Gurmeet Sodhi, whose son Hira Sodhi too was keen to contest, has decided to stick to the new norm.
“It sends a wrong message if both me and my father had applied for the ticket. We want to concentrate on one seat and win it,” Sodhi said.
The highest number of contenders is from seats with no sitting MLAs and most of them are youths. Some senior MLAs such as Lal Singh and Sunil Jakhar too are the sole contenders from their seats.