While the Congress has almost finalised its Lok Sabha candidates from six Parliamentary constituencies here, sources said the party is yet to come out with the final list as the decision on the Chandni Chowk constituency is still to be arrived at.
Congress leaders said the decision on Chandni Chowk is still pending “as the party wants sitting MP Kapil Sibal to contest from Amritsar, but the Union Minister has expressed his reluctance to change his constituency”.
“Senior Congress leaders, including Punjab PCC president Partap Singh Bajwa have met Mr. Sibal over the last two days. Punjab leaders feel if Mr. Sibal contests from Amritsar, it would improve the chances of the party. However, Mr. Sibal is not very convinced and he has resisted the move till now,” a senior Congress leader said.
Sources said AICC general secretary Shakeel Ahmed, in-charge of both Delhi and Punjab, is also in the loop. Congress leaders said while Mr. Sibal, after consultations with his core group of supporters and election managers, has expressed his unwillingness to change his constituency, “the party leadership is working on different permutation and combinations”.
“Earlier, the party leaders were looking at shifting Mr. Sibal to Amritsar and replace him by asking North-East MP J.P. Agarwal to contest from Chandni Chowk as the seat is primarily considered to be dominated by the baniya community. But Mr. Agarwal was preferred for the North-East after message came from the top that following his victory in the primaries he should again be fielded from there.”
“The party is now working on other combinations. If Mr. Sibal agrees to shift to Amritsar, the party would field a new face including a Muslim as four out of ten assembly segments have a sizeable number of Muslims voters,” the leader added.
Earlier, Chandni Chowk and North-West parliamentary constituencies were included in the list of 16 Lok Sabha seats for the Congress primary. However, as objections were raised on the selection of these two constituencies – represented by Union Ministers Kapil Sibal and Krishna Tirath respectively – for Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s pet “primaries” project, the New Delhi and North-East constituencies were chosen for the exercise. This happened after sitting MPs, Ajay Maken and J.P. Agrawal, offered that their seats be included in the primaries list instead.