The Congress has released a first list of 86 candidates for next month’s Punjab Assembly election.
Chief Minister Charanjit Channi will fight from his seat of Chamkaur Saheb, while the party’s state unit chief, Navjot Sidhu, will be fielded from his Amritsar (East) constituency.
Actor-activist Sonu Sood’s sister Malvika, who joined the Congress on Tuesday and was hailed by Sidhu as a “game-changer”, has been given the Moga ticket.
Sidhu Moosewala, the controversial Punjabi singer who joined the party last month, will be fielded from the Mansa Assembly seat, which is his hometown.
Moosewala – known to flaunt guns in his music videos – faces many cases that accuse him of glorifying violence. His joining the party raised eyebrows and prompted hard questions of Navjot Sidhu, which he stonewalled at the time.
Among other seats announced, the Congress has retained Gurpreet Singh for the Bassi Pathana Assembly constituency, which the Chief Minister wanted for his brother.
Minister Brahm Mohindra’s son Mohit will be fielded from the Patiala (rural) seat.
The party has shut out MLA Balwinder Singh Laddi, who last month quit to join the BJP, but then returned to the Congress just six days later. Mr Laddi is the MLA from Sri Hargobindpur (a reserved seat), the ticket for which has now been given to Mandeep Singh Rangar Nangal.
Sukhpal Singh Khaira, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in November in connection with a money laundering case linked to drug smuggling, has been given the Bholath ticket.
The ruling Congress is fighting to retain power in one of very few states it rules outright, with strong challenges expected from the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party.
Voting for Punjab’s 117 seats will take place in a single phase on February 14. Results will be announced on March 10.