With Congress making it clear that they may appoint two deputies for Punjab chief minister-designate Charanjit Singh Channi, at least one of the leaders party reached out to for the post declined the offer.
Former state Congress chief Sunil Kumar Jakhar, who was in the reckoning for chief minister’s post, Sunday refused to be appointed as a deputy CM.
A Congress central observer had called up Jakhar even before party announced Channi’s name successor for Capt Amarinder Singh who had resigned on Saturday. Jakhar refused to accept the offer. Later, another senior leader from Delhi called him with the same offer, but Jakhar did not budge from his stand.
Sources said that Jakhar told the two leaders separately that he was a dyed-in-wool Congress worker and was not hankering for any post. He also told them that he will never quit Congress and will also not accept the post of a Deputy CM.
Party affairs in-charge for Punjab told news agency ANI that there was “a mutual feeling” that there should be two deputy chief ministers. “Soon we will take a call on it along with names for Council of Ministers…Some names have been discussed but it’s the CM’s prerogative who discusses it with party high command and takes a call,” Rawat was quoted as saying.
Having named a Dalit Sikh as CM, the Congress wants at least one Hindu leader as deputy CM. Senior MLA Brahm Mohindra, a Hindu face who was the Local Bodies Minister in Amarinder’s Cabinet, may be named a deputy CM.
Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who also in the running for CM’s post and was looking after the jails portfolio in Amarinder Cabinet may be named the second deputy CM and be allotted an important department.
Jakhar, who in July had made way for Navjot Singh Sidhu as PCC chief, would have been the CM designate had Rajya Sabha member Ambika Soni and Randhawa not opposed his name. Soni went on record to say that following the tradition of the Congress party, the CM of reorganised Punjab should be a Sikh.
On his part, Jakhar, the son of senior Congress leader late Balram Jakhar, is learnt to have told the two senior leaders who called him that he would protest publicly if Rajya Sabha member Partap Sigh Bajwa was made the CM.