Rs 45 lakh. That’s the amount Punjab Congress has earned by inviting applications from party leaders eager to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The process was completed Friday with a total of 165 applicants for the possible 13 Lok Sabha seats.
The party had put a fee of Rs 35,000 per constituency for general category candidates and Rs 25,000 per constituency for the SC applicants. The party received over 120 applications in the last two days, the deadline of Thursday being extended by a day due to inclement weather.
Sources in the know of things said the fund starved party was in need of money and that is why it levied an application fee after orders from the AICC. It is not only in Punjab that the party is charging an application fee. In the recently concluded Madhya Pradesh Assembly election, the grand old party had charged Rs 50,000 from every applicant.
"But in Punjab, we decided to charge Rs 35,000 as maximum fee as Rs 50,000 would have been too much. The Rs 35,000 and Rs 25,000 fee did not pinch much. By accepting the fee, we were not only able to fill our coffers to a small extent, but also managed to weed out non serious contenders," said a Congress leader requesting anonymity.
Sources said that such is the paucity of funds that the Congress was not even able to maintain its Sector 15 office well. The office is in bad shape.
On the last date of filing of applications, the party did not witness many prominent leaders. Except for the sports minister, Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, none of the ministers in Punjab cabinet have applied for the ticket. All eyes were on Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, whose candidature from Bathinda is being suggested by a number of leaders and workers. Badal had contested the LS election from Bathinda against his estranged sister in law Harsimrat Kaur Badal but had lost.
Even Rajya Sabha MP and former PPCC president Partap Singh Bajwa, who was expected to stake his claim on Gurdaspur ticket did not apply for the ticket. Neither his wife and former MLA Charanjit Kaur Bajwa filed an application.
Several constituencies have witnessed father-son duo seeking the ticket. For instance in Khadoor Sahib, both sitting MLA Kulbir Singh Zira and his former minister father Inderjit Singh Zira have applied for the ticket. Similarly, Sports Minster Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi and his son Anumit Sodhi have both sought a ticket from Ferozepore.
Former MLA Gurchet Singh Bhullar and his son Anup Singh Bhullar have also staked the claim on Khadoor Sahib.
Not just the father- son duo but a mother- daughter duo has also claimed ticket from Hoshiarpur. Former Union Minister and three time MP Santosh Chaudhary and her daughter Namita Chaudhary.