Sensing the criticality of retaining the Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat, the Punjab Congress is trying to show off a united facade with several factions now pitching in for the party candidate contesting the May 10 bypoll to the reserved constituency.
As part of the efforts to put up a united front, former Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Navjot Singh Sidhu and former chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi are expected to be in Jalandhar on Thursday to accompany party candidate Karamjit Kaur at the time of her filing the nomination papers.
PPCC chief Amarinder Raja Warring has confirmed that he had called both Sidhu and Channi for the event. “Invitations have been sent across to all the senior leaders of the party including Channi and Sidhu and we are hoping all of them to be here,” said Warring. Having remained the first party to announce its candidate, the Congress intends to take a lead even in the filing of papers.
Not only Sidhu and Channi, the PPCC has invited all the MPs, besides former PPCC chiefs Lal Singh, Shamsher Singh Dullo, and Mohinder Kaypee at the time of filing nomination papers of Kaur. Congress MPs including Manish Tewari, Ravneet Bittu, Mohammad Sadiq, and Gurjit Aujla, two-time JalandharWest MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu, and ex-minister Raja Gurjeet Singh are also expected to be present.
Amid bickering within the state unit, the party wants to set aside the differences for the polls and that is why all the senior leaders have been asked to show up in Jalandhar to send across a positive message among the voters. Party leaders believe that the Congress had paid a heavy price for these differences when it was decimated in last year’s assembly polls. “A defeat here could put us almost on the precipice. We have to forget the differences and give it a united fight,” commented a senior leader.
In the last few days, two party leaders, former MLAs Sushil Rinku and Chaudhary Surinder Singh, have joined the Aam Aadmi Party. Rinku is now AAP’s candidate for the Jalandhar bypoll. Senior party leaders said that certain Dalit leaders have been ignored by the party and the results are coming out now. “The party needs to step up its efforts to involve ignored Dalit party leaders,” said a senior leader.
Meanwhile, Sidhu met former CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal at her Chandigarh residence. “Contribution of the traditional Congressmen cannot be ignored and there was a need to bring back the leaders into party activities,” he said. Sidhu meeting leaders from different groupings is being seen as an attempt to stay relevant in state politics.
One of the main attractions of the day will be an address by ex-CM Channi, especially since he has a huge fan following in Jalandhar.
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