Punjab polls: In 4th list, Congress tries to get Hindu, Dalit equations right; changes 2 nominees | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Punjab polls: In 4th list, Congress tries to get Hindu, Dalit equations right; changes 2 nominees

The Congress tried to get its Hindu and Dalit equations right with the fourth list of candidates released for the Punjab assembly elections, on Friday. It changed two candidates and announced eight more, taking the total to 108 out of 117 segments.

punjab Updated: Jan 16, 2017 09:57 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
(From left)Congress candidates Joginder Singh Panjgrain, Rajkumar Gupta, and Geja Ram
(From left)Congress candidates Joginder Singh Panjgrain, Rajkumar Gupta, and Geja Ram

The Congress tried to get its Hindu and Dalit equations right with the fourth list of candidates released for the Punjab assembly elections, on Friday. It changed two candidates and announced eight more, taking the total to 108 out of 117 segments.

The remaining nine seats include those being sought, or likely to be given to, former Akali or BJP leaders such as Navjot Singh Sidhu, Pargat Singh and Inderbir Bolaria. No candidate was announced for Lambi and Jalalabad, the constituencies of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son and deputy, Sukhbir Singh Badal.

Fate of Jalandhar-based realtor Tajinder Bittu, however, changed in a day. He had made it to the Congress list from Jalandhar North on Thursday, but was replaced on Friday by Hindu face and former MLA Rajkumar Gupta. In the segment seen as Hindu-dominated, the entry of Bittu, an urban Sikh who had applied for Jalandhar Cantt and Central, had led to resignations by 17 sitting and former councillors.

Bittu, a former Jalandhar Improvement Trust chairman, had been adjusted on the recommendation of Kishori Lal Sharma, who coordinates the campaign of Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareli, sources said. Other than the Gandhi link being a factor, a leading media group of the state had also pushed for his candidature.

The other change was at Bhadaur, reserved for Scheduled Castes, where the party did a swap of sorts by replacing Nirmal Singh Nimma, who had been named in a list released last month. It rehabilitated former Jaitu MLA Joginder Singh Panjgrain, whose seat was already passed on to sitting Bhadaur MLA Mohammad Sadique.

But the underlying theme is to get the caste mix right. Panjgrain, a Majhabi Sikh, replaces Nimma, a former BSP legislator, from the Ravidassia community. Nimma was facing revolt from local Congress leaders for being a turncoat too.

Nine seats left
  • Amritsar East: Mr or Mrs Sidhu?
  • Amritsar South: Inderbir Bolaria or Jasbir Dimpa?
  • Ludhiana East: Manish Tewari, or not?
  • Jalandhar Cantt: Pargat Singh or Jagbir Brar?
  • Nakodar: Pargat Singh or Jagbir Brar?
  • Sanaur: Who, if not Lal Singh?
  • Mansa: Hindu or Sikh?
  • Lambi and Jalalabad: Who can fight the Badals?

Having faced an erosion of Hindu and Majhabi Sikh votes in 2012, the Congress is trying to strike a balance by fielding more Majhabis this time. That’s a factor behind Geja Ram also being on the list. Geja’s candidature from Jagraon shows that the will of state Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh prevailed over that of Ludhiana MP Ravneet Singh Bittu, who was pushing for Malkit Singh Dakha from Jagraon.

Amarinder was also able to ensure the Sahnewal ticket for singer Satwinder Kaur Bitti and Rupnagar for former Panjab University leader Brinder Dhillon, despite stiff opposition by Youth Congress national president and party MLA Amrinder Singh Raja Warring against the latter.

The Garhshankar ticket went to former MLA Lov Kumar Goldy, with the support of Amarinder and Punjab affairs in-charge Asha Kumari’s group. Other names on the list are councillor Sushil Kumar Rinku from Jalandhar West, Hardev Singh Laddi from Shahkot, former mayor Sunil Dutti from Amritsar North, and Amit Singh Manto from Sujanpur.