In Congress scramble for tickets in Punjab, survey is ‘king’
Never mind the two back-to-back poll drubbings. There is once again a scramble for tickets in Congress to contest Punjab elections and survey is the “king” when it comes to contentious seats, especially the ones where new entrants from the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) are staking a claim to the party ticket.Punjab polls 2017 Updated: Dec 09, 2016 15:04 IST
Never mind the two back-to-back poll drubbings. There is once again a scramble for tickets in Congress to contest Punjab elections and survey is the “king” when it comes to contentious seats, especially the ones where new entrants from the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) are staking a claim to the party ticket.
Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh, who had blamed poor candidate selection for the 2012 poll debacle, is trying to have his way on candidates backed by his own survey reports. Other than the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), the Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) of party’s poll strategist Prashant Kishor and All India Congress Committee (AICC) had also conducted their own “independent” surveys through private agencies to zero in on the best candidates ranking them on popularity, liasoning with party workers and in case of sitting MLAs, also anti-incumbency.
Going by the Congress tradition, the screening committee headed by former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot has tried to do a balancing act by meeting all 34 members of the state election committee separately to know their views on the list of 600 ticket hopefuls. Each had been asked to provide their feedback on the docket of candidates for each seat.
“The committee is comparing all survey reports but there will be no quota system in allotment of tickets this time. Earlier, all senior leaders used to give their own wish-list and the party tried to humour them all,” sources in the screening committee said. Talking to reporters at New Delhi on Thursday, Amarinder said surveys serve as good indicators on who is ahead but inputs from MPs, MLAs and local leaders are also being taken into consideration. An assertive Amarinder also did not rule out the possibility of some sitting MLAs being dropped. “Winnable candidates alone will make it to the final list,” he said.
Amarinder is facing internal resistance not only to his move to allot tickets to those who have jumped the ruling Akali Dal ship onto the Congress bandwagon but also the ‘one family, one ticket’ norm. Some sitting MLAs are keen to shuffle seats fearing anti-incumbency, but Amarinder is trying to stonewall any such move to prevent musical chairs on other seats. He has, however, said some sitting MLAs on reserved seats could be shuffled around to blunt anti-incumbency.
The report of the screening committee comprising Gehlot, Amarinder, general secretary in-charge of Punjab Asha Kumari, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Charanjit Channi, Meenakshi Nataranjan and Rajiv Satav will be placed before the central election committee headed by party president Sonia Gandhi that will meet on Saturday.