Rival groups jockey for Congress CM’s face in Punjab

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Party insiders say that the leadership is in favour of playing it safe for the moment by not naming any chief ministerial candidate…reports Asian Lite News

Everything is in a name when it comes to announcing the chief ministers face, it seems!

Just about a week after the AAP declared comedian-turned-politician Bhagwant Mann as its chief ministerial candidate, whispers in the Congress party have become louder over announcing a name for the coveted post.

The demand by Congress leaders in Punjab comes at a time when both Charanjit Singh Channi, the state’s first Dalit Chief Minister, and the party’s state unit chief Navjot Singh Sidhu have made clear their desire to occupy the seat, while former party chief Sunil Jakhar is the silent runner in the race.

Delhi is cautious about announcing the name as it has the potential to create trouble for the party with elections just round the corner.

In the 2017 Punjab assembly polls, ending all speculation with just a week to go before the election, then party vice-president Rahul Gandhi had announced that Amarinder Singh would head the government if the Congress was voted to power.

“Amarinder Singh has given his blood and sweat for Punjab. He has worked day and night for the development of Punjab. He has always worked for the Punjabi and Sardar (Sikh) community. He is going to be our chief minister,” Gandhi had said at his first political rally in the Akali Dal assembly stronghold of Majitha.

This time too the clamour within the party has been increasing to announce Channi as the Congress’ face.

Party insiders say that the leadership is in favour of playing it safe for the moment by not naming any chief ministerial candidate.

But the key opponents in the state — the AAP, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)- Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) combine and the BJP in alliance with Amarinder Singh’s new party Punjab Lok Congress and the Samyukt Samaj Morcha, the fledging coalition of farm unions — are making an issue out of it. The prominent faces for the parties are Channi, 58, Mann, 48, Sukhbir Singh Badal, 59, Amarinder Singh, 80, and Balbir Singh Rajewal, 78, respectively.

The announcement of the Congress chief ministerial face is crucial with the pollsters predicting that the Congress could either retain the helm with a photo finish close to the halfway mark of 59 or no party will get a clear majority, despite the anti-incumbency sentiment against previous incumbent Amarinder Singh, who was unceremoniously removed after a bitter power tussle with Sidhu last September.

Cricketer-turned-politician and a well-known TV personality Sidhu, 58, who in the game once rebelled against the Indian cricket team captain and in politics left the BJP in 2016 to join the Congress a year later, is slamming the central leadership by asking: “What’s a ‘baraat’ without a ‘dulha’ (bridegroom)?

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