Amarinder urges Manpreet to withdraw candidate

State Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday urged PPP president Manpreet Badal to withdraw his candidate from Moga. Stating that victory at the bypoll will signal big change in Punjab, Amarinder said he would meet Sanjha Morcha patron Surjit Singh and other Morcha partners — Manpreet, Joginder Dayal of CPI and CPM leaders — to request them to support the Congress candidate.

"I was thinking of speaking to them. But Manpreet announced the candidate at the Maghi mela, perhaps in an emotional moment. We will urge them to give a thought to withdraw their candidate. The PPP had five per cent vote share in the assembly polls, and we can join hands to push the Akali-BJP alliance out of Punjab," he said.

Addressing mediapersons at the Congress Bhawan, Amarinder said the party had shortlisted names for the bypoll and he would take the list to party president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday. Punjab Mahila Congress president Malti Thapar, who had staked her claim to the ticket and openly voiced her displeasure over the selection process, has been included in the list of contenders on Monday. The panel headed by MLA Rana Gurjit Singh had shortlisted former MLAs Darshan Brar and Vijay Sathi.

On party vice-president Rahul Gandhi asking them to do away with the centralised system of selecting candidates, Amarinder said, "Those in Delhi may not know about the best candidates in different states. So, Rahul said there should be local involvement. The suggestion will be implemented once it is put in the policy framework. As for Moga, the selection process was democratic and all contenders presented their case to the panel," he added. He dismissed speculations on party trying to woo former DGP P S Gill, who lost to Joginderpal Jain in the January polls.

Calling Moga a 'battleground', Amarinder said his senior leaders and he would camp there after the announcement of the candidate.

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