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Sunday, October 17, 2021

Punjab CM: MPs not in favour of Sunil Jakhar as Amarinder Singh’s replacement

The central observers Ajay Maken and Harish Chaudhary besides AICC general secretary Harish Rawat are now eliciting the opinion of each MLA to find a consensus candidate.

Written by Manoj C G | New Delhi |
Updated: September 19, 2021 2:35:20 pm
Former Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Sunil Jakhar. (File Photo)

The Congress high command’s plans to appoint former Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Sunil Jakhar as the new chief minister of the state has been met with firm resistance. Sources said all the MPs from the state have unitedly conveyed to the leadership that they will not accept Jakhar.

They are agreeable to Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa but the leadership fears his equations with PPCC president Navjot Singh Sidhu are not good. “They will end up fighting. It will go back to square one. If Amarinder was removed because the state Congress chief and the chief minister are pulling in different directions, then installing Bajwa would not solve that problem,” a senior leader said. Sidhu too is not in favour of Bajwa.

If the Congress leadership wants to install a Hindu, then why not Anandpur Sahib MP Manish Tewari, they ask. He is the only Hindu MP from Punjab and that too from Anandpur Sahib, one of the most sacred places for Sikhs. But the leadership and Sidhu are not in favour of Tewari.

The dilemma prompted the leadership to turn to Ambika Soni, the veteran Congress leader in the hope that she will be acceptable to all leaders — Sidhu, Bajwa and Amarinder but here again, the party was in for a surprise. Soni, at least in the public, said she was not willing to take up the post and argued that a Sikh should be the Chief Minister. Sources said she had conveyed her objection to the appointment of Jakhar on Friday itself.

Nearly 24 hours after the Congress high command asked Amarinder Singh to step down, it is still groping in the dark on the issue of finding his successor.

A senior leader said Singh’s ouster was a coup carried out by the party against itself and the minimum the leadership should have prepared a succession plan. “Clearly the leadership did not have a plan and expectedly it is now facing resistance,” a leader said.

The central observers Ajay Maken and Harish Chaudhary besides AICC general secretary Harish Rawat are now eliciting the opinion of each MLA to find a consensus candidate. Meanwhile, conspiracy theories abound. One leader said the confusion is classic leadership style to narrow down the choices to a person of its liking.

“Names are floated to ensure their elimination. It is a classic high command operation. There will be chaos and confusion and finally, the Congress president will nominate someone,” a leader said.

“Maine mana kardiya hai. The party’s exercise (to find a new CLP leader) is on in Chandigarh. The general secretary is there. So are the two observers. They are talking to every MLA and seeking their opinion in writing,” Soni told reporters while saying that there is no tussle in the party on finding Amarinder’s successor.

Soni said the chief minister should be a Sikh as it is the only state in India where a Sikh can become the CM.

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