In a setback to the Congress, Surjeet Singh Dhiman, who was named the party candidate from Amargarh assembly segment on Friday, refused to contest the elections.
A few minutes after the Congress released its second list for the Punjab polls and Dhiman’s supporters were busy celebrating his candidature, the former MLA announced his decision on Facebook.
“The long delay in allotment of tickets by congress party has caused anger amongst and thus has decided not to contest polls (sic),” said Dhiman in his post. Later, he switched off his phone.
Dhiman, who was eyeing the Sunam ticket, had lost the last assembly election from Amargarh by nearly 4,400 votes. The party has chosen Daman Thind Bajwa, Youth Congress general secretary and former president of Congress’ student wing in Punjab, to contest from Sunam.
Dhiman remained MLA from Dirba from 2007 to 2012. After Dirba was reserved, he was shifted to Amargarh. In 2012, he got the party ticket just a couple of days before the date of filing of nomination papers, which didn’t give him much time to canvass, apparently leading to his loss.
Dhiman wanted to shift to Sunam, from where he was assured ticket when Capt Amarinder Singh was fighting for the post of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief.
Not only Dhiman, other ticket aspirants from Sunam, including PPCC secretary Rajinder Deepa, criticised the party decision to allot a ticket to Daman Bajwa. “The party is denying tickets to Hindus and giving these to those having no mass base. All aspirants of the party ticket from Sunam are against the decision,” said Deepa.
Hours after the news of “revolt” spread, Congress crisis managers swung into action, and not only removed Dhiman’s Facebook post but also tried to smooth his ruffled feathers.
“We have asked Dhiman to resolve the issue and he has accepted our invitation to talks and removed the Facebook post,” said a Congress leader, refusing to be identified.
Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party didn’t miss the chance to take a dig at the Congress, calling it a “sinking ship”. “The Congress is a sinking ship and nobody would ever like to board it. Even Congress candidates know that they have lost connect with voters in the state and are shying away from facing elections,” said Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann.