Rahul for tick­ets to Ra­jya Sabha MPS, MLAS, kin as last re­sort

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - - Htpunjab&haryana - Sukhdeep Kaur

Only in case a sit­ting Ra­jya Sabha MP or MLA is the win­ning can­di­date from a seat, he or she will be asked to con­test.

ASHA KU­MARI, Cong gen­eral secy in-charge, Pun­jab

CHANDI­GARH:CON­GRESS pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi wants Ra­jya Sabha MPS, sit­ting MLAS and their kin to be fielded for Lok Sabha elec­tions only as the last re­sort, when he or she is the only win­ning can­di­date among the hope­fuls. Rahul con­veyed this to All-in­dia Con­gress Com­mit­tee (AICC) gen­eral sec­re­taries in-charge of states at a meet­ing in New Delhi last week.

Ex­cep­tions to the rule can only be al­lowed by the Cen­tral Elec­tion Com­mit­tee (CEC) that will take the fi­nal call on nom­i­nees for ev­ery state.

Party sources said Rahul wants to nip the prob­lem of dy­nasts and sit­ting MPS and MLAS crowd­ing the nom­i­na­tion list in states like Pun­jab. The state elec­tion com­mit­tee of the party headed by Pun­jab Con­gress chief Su­nil Jakhar will short­list names in the next two weeks as all state units have to sub­mit a list of three can­di­dates for ev­ery Lok Sabha seat by Fe­bru­ary 25.

“Only in case a sit­ting Ra­jya Sabha MP or MLA is the only win­ning can­di­date from a seat will he or she be asked to con­test,” gen­eral sec­re­tary in-charge for Pun­jab, Asha Ku­mari said.

With three more years to go for state polls, the party also wants to avoid by-elec­tions. The norm may dampen hopes of many big guns in the state. Se­nior leader Am­bika Soni and her son, Anoop Soni, are among con­tenders for the Anand­pur Sahib seat and Par­tap Singh Ba­jwa and his wife, Cha­ran­jit Kaur Ba­jwa, are keen on the Gur­daspur seat.

Soni told HT that she is al­ready a Ra­jya Sabha MP and has not pitched her son for the Anand­pur Sahib seat. “It is a call the party high com­mand would take,” she said. Her son has not ap­plied for a ticket, but it is not a pre­req­ui­site to bag a nom­i­na­tion.

The rule may also ruf­fle feath­ers of lo­cal govern­ment min­is­ter Navjot Singh Sidhu, whose wife, Navjot Kaur, has sought nom­i­na­tion from the Chandi­garh seat.

It is, how­ever, ex­cep­tions to the rule that can trig­ger more un­rest in the Con­gress. Chief min­is­ter Cap­tain Amarinder Singh’s wife Pre­neet Kaur, a for­mer Union min­is­ter, is tipped to re-con­test the Pa­tiala seat, rep­re­sented by her three times. Am­loh MLA Ran­deep Singh Nabha too has ap­plied for Pa­tiala to re­mind the party of ‘one fam­ily, one ticket’ rule coined by Amarinder dur­ing 2017 state polls.

Nabha is re­sent­ful over his se­nior­ity be­ing ig­nored for a cabi­net berth. So is four-time MLA Rakesh Pandey who has ap­plied for the Lud­hi­ana seat. Dis­grun­tled MLAS from other back­ward classes (OBCS) who have got no rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the cabi­net — San­gat Singh Gilzian and Sur­jit Dhi­man — have pitched their sons for Anand­pur Sahib and San­grur seats, re­spec­tively.

The new bar may also dash hopes of min­is­ters Brahm Mo­hin­dra and Sadhu Singh Dharam­sot whose sons are among the ap­pli­cants. Sports min­is­ter Rana Gurmeet Sodhi too would go out of con­tention for the Ferozepur seat along with son, An­u­mit Sodhi. MLA Dar­shan Brar’s son and leg­is­la­tor Sukh­pal Bhullar’s father, for­mer min­is­ter Gurchet Bhullar and brother, Anoop Bhullar, too are in the race for tick­ets.

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