Rahul for tickets to Rajya Sabha MPs, MLAs, kin as last resort
› 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.