Punjab: Amarinder’s ‘favourites’ score big, Dhillon to take on Mann in Sangrur

Kanchan Vasdev
The chief minister was pushing for a ticket for former MLA Kewal Singh Dhillon even after AICC president Rahul Gandhi shot his name down in the last CEC meeting, sources said.

Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh had his way as the Congress Central Election Committee (CEC) nominated former Union minister Manish Tewari for Anandpur Sahib and former MLA Kewal Singh Dhillon from Sangrur Lok Sabha constituencies, sources said.

Dhillon is considered a close aide of the chief minister, who was pushing for a ticket for him even after AICC president Rahul Gandhi had shot his name down in the previous CEC meeting, sources said. Dhillon is being pitched to take on Aam Aadmi Party MP Bhagwant Mann and SAD's former finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa. Dhillon had lost in the 2017 Assembly election and had been eyeing a chairperson's post, the sources said.

In backing Tewari, Amarinder has ditched his political secretary Capt Sandeep Singh Sandhu, considered his trusted lieutenant for Anandpur Sahib, who was a strong contender for the ticket. PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar was supporting him strongly. Sandhu is general secretary to the PPCC chief and also in-charge of the PPCC office.

Sources said the meeting went on for a few minutes as Jakhar, Amarinder and general secretary in-charge Asha Kumari had reached a consensus at the CM's Delhi residence earlier.

The trio went for the CEC meeting together and told the high command that they were unanimous on the choice of these two candidates.

Jakhar was earlier objecting to Tewari on the plea that he had abandoned Ludhiana during last LS elections. The ticket was put on hold earlier, but finally announced Thursday. Tewari will take on SAD MP Prem Singh Chandumajra, AAP candidate Narinder Singh Shergill, and Taksali Akalis candidate Bir Devinder Singh in his constituency.

Sangrur and Anandpur Sahib were held up as the Congress had to balance the caste equations in the state through these two seats, said sources. For accommodating a Jat Sikh in Sangrur in Dhillon, the party had to accomodate Tewari, a Hindu in Anandpur Sahib.

With declaration of these two tickets, the Congress has announced 11 tickets so far. Only two are pending now.

While four sitting MPs were nominated, most of the seven other tickets were also given to Amarinder's choices. They include: The CM's wife Preneet Kaur, Jasbir Singh Dimpa from Khadoor Sahib, Dr Raj Kumar Chabbewal from Hoshiarpur, Mohd Sadiq from Faridkot.