September 12, 2020 3:02:41 pm
PUNJAB CONGRESS on Friday got former chief minister of Uttarakhand Harish Rawat as the new general secretary-cum-party-Affairs-incharge. Rawat, a five time former MP and a former Union minister, has replaced Asha Kumari, who remained in the saddle for over four years.
The replacement was awaited for a long time now. With the naming of Rawat as general secretary in-charge, the party high command has given a tall leader to the state that would be going to election in early 2022. The ruling party needs a leader, who can act as a cohesive force with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh facing facing dissenting voices from his rivals within the party including Partap Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dullo. Also, former Cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, is not on Amarinder’s side. The gulf between the duo remains wide open.
Kumari, who is a sitting MLA in Himachal Pradesh, is a claimant for the chief minister’s post of her state. The hill state would also go for elections in December 2022. Kumari has been saying that she wanted to concentrate on her state for the next elections.
She was strongly on Amarinder’s side for as long as she remained the in-charge. She had supported him even when he was opposing Sidhu’s entry in Congress despite him being the party high command’s choice. When both Amarinder and Sidhu had differences, she had not minced any words in bashing Sidhu. She is considered to have had a successful tenure as party affairs in-charge as Punjab Congress formed a government in the state after being in opposition for 10 years. Later, Congress got maximum eight seats from a state during the Lok Sabha election.
Kumari had her detractors too in the party, who say that she should have acted like a senior and tried to bridge the gulf between warring Amarinder and Sidhu for the future of the party in the state. Though they have been saying that it is understandable for the state in-charge to be solidly behind the CM, bridging differences hold equal importance.
In the backdrop of issues like Bajwa and Dullo opening a front against Amarinder and Sidhu staying away from party activities, Rawat faces a challenge to keep the Congress flock together. It will be of utmost importance in the election year that is approaching. While several other political outfits are inviting Sidhu to join them, it will be important for the Congress to keep him on its side as it would help in the perception game.
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