No differences, Congress list for Punjab polls next week: Amarinder

New Delhi, Dec 11 (IANS) Denying any differences with the Congress high command over the selection of candidates for the 2017 Punjab assembly elections, state Congress President Amarinder Singh on Sunday said the list will be out next week.

“No differnes with the Congress high command on tickets. These are false reports. The list of candidates will be announced next week.”

Amarinder Singh had earlier said the first list of candidates will be out on December 4 and the second by December 8. Last week, he said the list will be finalsed by December 8 and announced on December 9 or 10.

The Shiromani Akali Dal — which is ruling in Punjab in allinace with the Bharatiya Janata Party since 2007 — released its first list of 69 candidates in November.

The Aam Aadmi Party too has released the names of 98 candidates. Punjab has 117 assembly constituencies.

The former Chief Minister said that since the Congress is a large party, it needs to go through systems and processes to ensure proper ticket allocation. He denied there was a delay in shortlisting of candidates.

“The Badals have a family and they decide it (allocation of tickets) within the family. We go to the state first and then to the scrutiny comittee. Two meetings of the scrutiny committee have already been held. Thereafter, we go to the CEC (Central Election Committee of the party). We have already had two meetings of the CEC. We have already cleared a number of candidates,” Amarinder Singh said.

“Once the scrutiny committee sends the final names, it will be decided. We still have enough time. Our candidates will have at least 45 days to campaign,” he added.

As for the opposition within the party over candidates, Amarinder Singh said: “We’ll not sideline senior Congress leaders. Only in places where there is no Congress candidate will we look for strong candidates who have come from other parties. There are a few gaps as some leaders have left us.”

Asked if former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu will join the Congress, Singh said: “I hope so. I have full confidence. I had a good meeting with him. It was very positive. Let him come from Mumbai. Let us wait for him to take the decision.”

Party sources said Sidhu will be joining soon, and his late induction was a strategic decision.

As for ticket to senior party leader and former Union minister Manish Tiwari, Amarinder Singh said the decision will be taken by party President Sonia Gandhi.

Asked about Punjabi singer Hans Raj Hans’ decision to quit the Congress and join the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Punjab Congress chief said he might have taken this decision to earn recognition at the national level.

“The BJP is absolutely a non-player in Punjab. They are a complete zero,” he said.

–IANS

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