`Cong to give party tickets to youths, women`

The Congress will give party tickets to youth and women, who have strong chances of winning in the upcoming Assembly polls, Amarinder Singh said.

Chandigarh: The Congress will give party tickets to youth and women, who have strong chances of winning in the upcoming Assembly polls, Punjab Congress Chief
Amarinder Singh said here on Thursday.

"The Congress high command is keen that more youth and women join the party," he told reporters here.

Asserting that "winability" will be the sole criteria to allocate party tickets, he said, "Youths and women will replace weak candidates when tickets are allocated for
contesting polls."

"I did not agree to the high command`s decision to give 25 percent of party tickets to new faces in the 2007 Assembly polls in Punjab," he said.

Earlier, the Congress received a shot in the arm when SAD`s national vice president and former cabinet minister Chiranji Lal Garg and several leaders of Lok Bhalai Party joined the party unconditionally.

Garg and leaders of Lok Bhalai Party, including, Hakam Singh, joined the Congress in the presence of Amarinder.

Garg had served the SAD for 45 years. "I am a relaxed man," he said on joining the Congress. "I was disheartened by the treatment given to me in the past five years by the SAD," Garg said.

When his attention was drawn towards leader of opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal`s aversion to allocation of party tickets to those joining Congress from other political
parties, he said, "She can recommend what she likes but the final call has to be taken by the high command of the party."

The names of the candidates to contest the polls have been shortlisted and will be further scrutinised before being sent to the party high command for clearance, Amarinder said. The party election manifesto will be out by third week of
January, he said.

On the possibility of Anna factor playing a role in Punjab polls slated for early next year, he said, "I am for sure that he will not support candidates of these (SAD and
BJP) corrupt parties."

"The present SAD-BJP combine government is the most corrupt government in Punjab so far," he alleged.

Referring to the office of Lokpal, he said that if voted to power the Congress will strengthen the office of existing Lokpal in the state. Besides, the Congress government will set up a Vigilance Commission in the state, he added.

Hailing the proposed food security bill, he said that it is a revolutionary step as it will cover 70 percent of the country`s population.


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