December 9, 2021 6:06:09 am
An effort by the Congress high command to bridge the widening gap between party leaders in poll-bound Punjab seems to have had not much effect with differences between former state party chief Sunil Jakhar, who has been appointed as campaign committee chairperson, and Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi once again coming to fore.
Jakhar, who was among the frontrunners for the CM post after Capt Amarinder Singh resigned amid protracted internal wranglings but was sidelined after veteran leader Ambika Soni went public sayimg that that Punjab always had a Sikh CM, chose the martyrdom day of Guru Teg Bahadur Wednesday to send across a subtle message. “My humble tribute to “Hind ki Chadar” on his martyrdom day, is to resolve to continue fighting those creating a false sense of discrimination/inequality on basis of religion/caste/identity in Punjab,” he said in a tweet.
Sources in Congress said while Jakhar has accepted the position of campaign committee chairperson, though reluctantly, he was still “bitter” about the way him not being a Sikh was made an issue. While the CM post eventually went to Charanjit Singh Channi, a Dalit Sikh, Jakhar also refused the post of Deputy CM.
The Congress is yet to launch a joint campaign for the polls, even as state Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu and Channi are addressing functions and rallies separately.
On Tuesday, Channi addressed a function in Fazilka, the home-turf of Jakhar, but he was not kept in the loop. Jakhar’s nephew Sandeep Jakhar, who an aspirant for party ticket from Abohar was, however, present at the event where Channi made a slew of announcements for the area.
Sources said the matter has reached AICC leader Rahul Gandhi, who had recently held separate meetings with Jakhar and Channi and Sidhu and asked them to work together. “It seems the meeting did not have any effect. Tuesday function was held without Jakhar. The forbmer PCC chief has atrtedd tweeting again. The situation is back to square one,” said a party leader requesting anonymity. A Congress leader, privy to the developments within the party, said efforts were on to bring Sidhu and Jakhar together.
Earlier, when first sounded out for the assignment of campaign committee chief by party high command, Jakhar had made it clear that he would not be able to work with the team in Punjab. AICC in-charge for Punjab had held a meeting with Jakhar. The meeting did not yield anything. The party then started mulling appointing Vidhan Sabha Speaker Rana Kanwarpal Singh as campaign committee chief. However, Rahul intervened as the party thought that it could not afford to let a senior Hindu face like Jakhar slip into the sidelines, especially when former CM Amarinder Singh has floated his own party and was allying with the BJP for the 2022 polls.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.