Rahul calls Punjab leaders to Delhi after party observers submit report
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Amid stormy Parliament session, the poll exercise of the Congress is on. AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi has summoned state leaders and sitting and former MLAs to New Delhi next week to discuss report submitted by party observers who toured the state last month.
Among those invited are Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh, Congress Legislative Party leader Sunil Jakhar and sitting MLAs and former MLAs representing various communities such as Jat Sikhs, non-Jat Sikhs and and SCs such as Banga MLA Tarlochan Singh.
According to party sources, the Gandhi scion, in his new role as in-charge of 2014 polls is likely to discuss the report of observers and party's poll prospects. During his Punjab visit in October, he had clearly said winnability and not sitting MPs would be the criterion for allotment of tickets. Feedback collected by observers from district and block presidents, sitting and former MLAs, former state presidents and senior leaders may spell trouble for some sitting MPs. At least five of the eight sitting MPs are learnt not to have received good ratings on performance and winnability.
The strong resentment against some sitting MPs among party rank and file may force swapping of seats or dropping non-performing MPs. Dalit-dominated Doaba region is most likely to see a change with both Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur reporting strong anti-incumbency against sitting MPs and Congress losing 17 out of 23 seats to the SAD-BJP alliance. The swing of the Dalit vote towards the BSP may even see the party fielding a Dera Ballan confidant, Seth Satpal, from Jalandhar. The dera was cited as one of the main reasons for party's poor show in the assembly polls in the region. Also in the race for tickets from the region is former Bholath MLA Sukhpal Khaira, who the observers have listed as a probable from Khadoor Sahib seat.