With less than four weeks left in assembly polls, the Congress is struggling with more of its same old woes. The party had set the tone for the 2017 Punjab elections claiming internal winds of change. Playing the winnability card, its state chief Captain Amarinder Singh had announced that surveys will decide candidates, six months in advance and dynasty would not be a matter of privilege.
But party insiders claim that once again the old “bureaucratic” ways prevailed. No wonder even as the last date of filing of nominations is January 18, the party could at best release its third list of 23 seats, after a gap of almost three weeks from the second, leaving the remaining 17 for better consensus among its screening and central election committee members. While some seats have been caught in egos of various committee members, others are caught as they need to be ready for a chain reaction.
The seat that tops the list of probabilities is that of the Sidhu couple. The problem is not whether Mr or Mrs Sidhu will contest, but when is Mr Sidhu joining the Congress.
In Amritsar South, former SAD legislator Inderbir Bolaria is facing a stiff resistance from senior leader Jasbir Dimpa who has dug his heels. Dimpa has the sympathies of some screening committee members and Bolaria is finding himself as friendless in the new party as his old.
In Jalandhar Cantt, former Indian Hockey captain Pargat Singh would like to score another win but Amarinder wants former MLA Jagbir Brar to bat. Neither is ready to blink first.
In Ludhiana east, former union minister Manish Tewari wants to be nominated but the seat is facing resistance from Ludhiana MP Ravneet Bittu. The Nakodar seat is being kept as a safety valve. The nomination of either Pargat or Jagbir will have to see a chain reaction and either of them would need to be adjusted here. The Shahkot seat is pending as Rajya Sabha MP Partap Bajwa is rooting for his loyalist Rajanbir, son of a former Punjab minister. But there are other contenders too vying for adjustment. At Garhshankar, there are three contenders — former MLA Love Kumar Goldy, Nimisha Mehta, and Punjab Youth Congress chief Amarpreet Singh Lally. All are backed by different members of the screening committee. And each one is holding on to the fight.
In Ropar, there is no consensus on whether to field former Panjab university leader Brinder Dhillon, an Amarinder protege and in Sahnewal, Amarinder is rooting for singer Satwinder Bitti but there is no consensus among other screening panel members.
The Sanaur seat is waiting for replacement for senior MLA Lal Singh who has opted out of the race for son Rajinder’s candidacy from Samana. The Mansa seat is seeing a hot contest between Amarinder confidant BIS Chahal, who is seeking it for his son, and former MLA Mangat Rai Bansal, who wants it for his wife.
The party is also looking for best bet from Lambi and Jalalabad, seats of Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal and his son and deputy CM, Sukhbir Badal, respectively.