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Kin, loyalists get top slots in jumbo Punjab Cong list

The committee is seen as an all-please exercise given the fact that the assembly elections is less than a year away amid a stiff challenge from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on the one side and ruling Akali-BJP combine on the other.

punjab Updated: May 15, 2016 16:11 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times
punjab congress,sunil jakhar,amarinder singh
Former Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar has been made the chief spokesperson as also the party’s vice-president.(HT File Photo)

Six months after Captain Amarinder Singh was appointed the Punjab Congress president, the new list of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) released on Saturday evening has come as a poll-time bonanza for families and loyalists of MPs and MLAs. While one of Amarinder’s first statements was not to allot tickets on basis of kinship, the new list is in keeping with the party ethos of “family first”.

The poll-weary party has gone for a top-heavy, jumbo-size state executive, including 36 vice-presidents and 96 general secretaries. The 2013 list had 14 vice-presidents and 34 general secretaries. Along with 28 district presidents, 24 special invitees, 35 permanent invitees and 40 executive committee members, Amarinder’s list of 266 is a few notches below his predecessor Partap Bajwa’s 292.

The only one “downsized” is former Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar, who now finds himself among one of the 36 vice-presidents, including newcomers Manpreet Badal and Hans Raj Hans, besides the party’s chief spokesperson.

‘One V-P or gen secy on seats without MLAs’

Defending the jumbo list of vice-presidents and general secretaries, Amarinder said he wanted at least one vice-president or a general secretary in the 84-odd segments where the party does not have a sitting MLA.

Also read I First on Kishor’s list: Unity, Captain’s accessibility

“I need in-charges on seats where there are no party MLAs. We have appointed even more than one in-charge in some of these constituencies. I have tried to make every deserving leader a part of the party organisation,” said Amarinder. However, his detractors feel the move may fuel a war for tickets among those he had appointed in constituencies without party MLAs.

Amarinder has tried to undo the “historical injustice” to his loyalists. Bajwa had to face a string of resignations after sidelining Amarinder’s loyalists as special invitees and executive committee members. Amarinder has ensured an upgrade for all of them as vice-presidents and general secretaries.

Capt family leads the pack

Amarinder’s family leads the pack with three more berths. Amarinder’s wife and Patiala MLA Preneet Kaur is permanent invitee and his son Raninder Singh and brother Malwinder Singh are special invitees. Bajwa, now Rajya Sabha MP, is a permanent invitee, his younger brother Fateh Jang Bajwa remains a general secretary and his wife, Qadian MLA Charanjit Bajwa, is a special invitee.

Rajya Sabha MP Shamsher Dullo is a permanent invitee and his wife, Harbans Kaur Dullo, a special invitee. MLA Rana Gurmeet Sodhi is a vice-president and his son, Anumeet Sodhi, a special invitee and so is MLA Lal Singh’s son Rajinder Singh.

After mending fences with Amarinder, MLA Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has been able to retain the general secretary’s berth for her son-in-law Vikram Bajwa, while her loyalists, MLA Rakesh Pandey and Surinderpal Sibia, remain vice-presidents. The other “son-rises” are MP Santokh Chaudhary’s son Vikram Chaudhary and Sukhwinder Danny, son of former minister Sardool Singh.

The SAD (Longowal) merger has got two posts for the Barnala family. Surjit Kaur Barnala has been made special invitee and her grandson Simranjit Singh Barnala executive committee member. Former MP Mohinder Singh Kaypee is among the permanent invitees and his wife Suman Kaypee in the executive committee.

First Published: May 14, 2016 20:36 IST