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With AICC Vice President Rahul Gandhi set to be elevated as party president, his proteges in Punjab have found a reason to rejoice, more so with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh saying that he should be projected as party’s PM candidate in next Lok Sabha election. With Punjab awaiting a Cabinet expansion, at least three of Rahul’s handpicked youth leaders are in the race to become ministers.
They include Indian Youth Congress president Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, Sangrur MLA Vijay Inder Singla and Fatehgarh Sahib MLA Kuljit Singh Nagra. They were among the five Aam Aadmi Ke Sipahi (AAKS) handpicked by Rahul from Punjab. Another such leader is Punjab’s youngest MP, Ravneet Singh Bittu. His elevation has also meant celebrations in former PPCC president Partap Singh Bajwa’s camp, who has been virtually pushed to the fringes by Amarinder Singh’s government. He was nominated as a Rajya Sabha MP by Rahul after he was removed as PPCC president to pave way for Amarinder to lead the party in the state. Rahul is known to have held Bajwa’s hand all along even in the face of a fierce challenge posed by Amarinder, who even once threatened to break the party into two factions.
Given the rock-solid support to Bajwa by Rahul then, Amarinder even went to the extent of criticising Rahul and called him inexperienced in 2015. But he later softened towards Rahul and later backed his elevation as party chief. On Monday, Amarinder praised Rahul stating he had the support of people, with 100 per cent party workers backing his elevation. Amarinder also rejected “charges of ‘parivarvad’ behind Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as AICC president”, a statement quoted him. He added that “the massive response Rahul has been evoking in recent months on various fora, including the ongoing election campaign in Gujarat, indicates his huge popular support base.” He termed the AICC election as the party’s internal business, and said even other like-minded parties had no problems with Rahul taking over.
Amarinder added: “The young Gandhi had generated massive enthusiasm in the party with his ability to connect with the youth. He is very inquisitive by nature, has an eye for detail and is modern in his outlook – qualities that would stand the party in good stead if it projects Rahul as the next prime ministerial candidate.”