Bitten by rebels in the 2012 Assembly elections that damaged Congress prospects then, Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh has decided to placate the lot this time. Amarinder, who reached Chandigarh Thursday, has called upset leaders for separate meetings.
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Sitting MLA from Banga Talochan Singh Soondh, who has been denied the ticket, has got a call from party leaders that Amarinder wanted to see him. While party is hopeful that Soondh, who put up a show of strength on the death anniversary of his father on Wednesday, would soften, he said he would not agree without a ticket.
“I am meeting him tomorrow. But I will contest as an Independent from Banga if I am not given the ticket. Those candidates who have been losing thrice in a row have been given the ticket. I am the only sitting MLA who has been denied ticket. It is because I belong to Scheduled Class and do not have a Godfather,” said an angry Soondh, who had hit headlines after hurling a show at Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia in the Assembly.
Senior Congress leaders confirmed the efforts to placate rebels.
“Why not? If AAP can placate Jassi Jassraj, why cannot we talk to our people. After all, they have been with Congress for a long time and the party is like a family. If someone feels ignored, he can always be approached and heard out,” said a senior Congress leader.
Amarinder had drawn flak in 2012 elections for not working on party rebels. As many as 22 ended up either contesting as Independents or not supporting the party nominees.
Congress is faced with rebels on several seats. They include Raman Behal from Gurdaspur, Rajinder Deepa from Sunam, Mohinder Rinwa from Fazilka and Inderjit Randhawa from Dera Baba Nanak. The family of former CM Surjit Singh Barnala too has been upset for being denied the ticket from Dhuri.
Congress also decided not to open a front against sitting MLA from Ludhiana Rakesh Pandey, former MLA Gurbinder Atwal, former MLA Malkiat Singh Dakha for attending the show of strength organised by Soondh. Sources said the party was considering the fact that they went there to pay tributes to a fellow colleague’s father on his death anniversary.
‘Sidhu to contest Assembly polls’
Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu would contest Assembly elections in Punjab, Amarinder Singh said in Delhi on Thursday. The party is offering Amritsar (East) seat to Sidhus. The seat was represented by Sidhu’s namesake wife.