Sidhu to head election committee, has his way in DCC appointments

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Getting into election mode, the Congress on Monday constituted a 53-member Punjab Election Committee (PEC), headed by PPCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu as its chairman, and accommodated all senior leaders of the party in the jumbo panel.

Sidhu has been appointed the PEC chairperson even as the Congress has a Chief Minister in the state. Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi has been accommodated as a member of the committee. The committee will shortlist suitable candidates for 117 constituencies and send a panel to the screening committee, headed by Ajay Maken. The screening committee will further zero in on the candidates and send it to the central election committee of Congress for its final stamp.

The apparently please-all list includes chairperson of coordination committee for Punjab elections, Ambika Soni, chairperson campaign committee, Sunil Jakhar, chairman of manifesto committee, Partap Singh Bajwa, all Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs from Punjab, all ministers, former CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, former PPCC chiefs, including HS Hanspal, Mohinder Singh Kaypee.

The other members include AICC secretary Kundan Lal Sharma, Jalalabad MLA Raminder Awla, veteran leader Lal Singh, working presidents of PPCC including Kuljit Singh Nagra, Sukhwinder Singh Danny, Pawan Goyal, former Cabinet ministers who were dropped after Channi became the CM. They include Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, Balbir Sidhu, Gurpreet Singh Kangar, Sunder Sham Arora and Sadhu Singh Dharamsot.

Deputy Speaker Ajaib Singh Bhatti and Navtej Singh Cheema, MLA from Sultanpur Lodhi, who recently had a tiff with Cabinet Minister Rana Gurjit Singh. Others include Hamid Masih, chairman SC department Raj Kumar Chabbewal, Punjab Mahila Congress president Rani Balbir Sodhi, Punjab Youth Congress president Barinder Dhillon, president NSUI Akshay Sharma and Nirmal Kaira of a frontal organisation of the Congress.

With the jumbo list, the Congress has tried to accommodate all senior leaders, including Bhattal and Lal Singh. It has also included all MPs. Former chief minister Amarinder Singh’s wife Preneet Kaur is also a Congress MP. The party has already issued her a show-cause notice for anti-party activities.

The party also has tried to have representation of Jat Sikhs, SCs, Hindus, Muslim, women. It has also accommodated senior leaders and young MLAs, including Awla and Cheema.

The panel will soon invite applications from ticket aspirants and before holding meetings and discussing amongst themselves about the panel to be shortlisted. The process will start soon.

It was PPCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu’s day on Monday when he was appointed the election panel chief by the Congress high command and he had his way on the District Congress Committees as most of the DCC presidents and working presidents were of Sidhu’s choice.

The high command also put its stamp on Sidhu’s formula of having working presidents with every DCC chief.

On 28 bodies in the districts, the Congress now has a DCC president and one to four working presidents.
Sources said that at places like Fazilka and Pathankot, where Jakhar had earlier appointed DCC presidents of his choice as PPCC chief, the high command went with Jakhar’s choice. Both the DCCs have Jakhar’s appointees in Sanjeev Bains from Pathankot and Random Kamra from Fazilka.

In Gurdaspur also, Jakhar had appointed a Christian in Roshan Joseph but local MLA Barindermeet Pahda is learnt to have recommended Darshan Mahajan, who has been appointed DCC president from Gurdaspur now. Jakhar was earlier an MP from Gurdaspur. Fazilka is his home district.

In Ropar, the high command put a stamp on Speaker Rana Kanwarpal Singh’s choice. Chief strategic advisor of Sidhu, Mohd Mustafa, had his way in getting his candidates in the DCC. DCC presidents of Pathankot, Amritsar rural, Hoshiarpur, Ludhiana rural, Ludhiana urban, Patiala rural, Bathinda urban, Fazilka, Fatehgarh and Muktsar have been retained. Rest, at all the places, new DCC presidents have been appointed.

Only on Saturday, Sidhu, who was addressing a gathering in Baba Bakala, had stated that he was helpless as PPCC chief as he could not even appoint his own DCC presidents. The list was finally released on Monday. Interestingly, the organisation has come into force over four months after Sidhu was named the PPCC chief.

Balraj Thakur is the DCC president from Jalandhar urban, Darshan Singh Tahli from Jalandhar rural, Narendra Lally from Patiala, Gurdeep Singh Unthsar from Patiala rural, Ashwani Pappu from Amritsar Urban, Bhagwant Pal Singh Sachar from Amritsar rural, Kirandeep Singh Mitha on Taran Tarn, Ramesh Singh from Kapurthala, Sandeep Singh Bhatia from Nawanshahar, Darshan Sahota from Faridkot, Rishiv Jain from Mohali, Ashwani Sharma from Ludhiana urban, Karanjeet Galib from Ludhiana rural, Rupinder Singh Raja Gill from Khanna, Rajinder Chhabra from Ferozepore, Gurpreet Singh Lucky Pakho from Barnala, Jaspal Das from Malerkotla.

Others include Kamaljeet Brar from Moga, Harcharan Singh Brar Sotha from Muktsar, Arun Wadhwa from Bathinda urban, Kulwinder Singh from Bathinda rural, Mangat Singh Badal from Mansa, Kuldeep Kumar Nanda from Hoshiarpur and Aswini Sharma from Ropar.

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