CHANDIGARH: In a blow to Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, who is said to have been positioning himself as the chief minister candidate of Congress in the state, a senior party leader confirmed rumors that Congress won’t announce a Chief Minister face for the upcoming state assembly elections, according to media reports.
Sunil Jakhar, Chairman of the campaign committee of Punjab Congress, told news agency ANI that the party will contest under a “joint leadership”.
According to The Tribune, tt has been made clear that the elections would be fought collectively with CM Charanjit Singh Channi as the Dalit face, PPCC chief Navjot Sidhu the Jat face and former PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar the Hindu face. Indicating internal dissensions, the PPCC chief at the Batala rally on Sunday declared former MLA Ashwani Sekhri as the Congress candidate from Batala even though the party is yet to release a list of nominees. The announcement by Sidhu is being interpreted as a snub to minister Tript Rajinder Bajwa, who has been eying the Batala seat. In the Qadian Assembly segment, Sidhu is backing sitting MLA FatehjangBajwa.
The latter’s brother, Partap Singh Bajwa (MP), too wants to contest from Qadian.
The move is aimed at balancing caste equations in the state and preventing infighting within the party. The top faces of the party in Punjab come from diverse communities, aimed at strengthening numbers by tapping into vote banks of all electorally significant groups.
Punjab Congress had gone through a massive crisis earlier this year after an open rebellion by party leaders that ended in the unceremonious removal of Amarinder Singh from the post of the chief minister. The state then got its first Dalit chief minister in Charanjit Singh Channi.
Sidhu, who led the attack on Singh during the Punjab Congress crisis, has also been taking swipes at the Channi-led government from time to time. He is considered a loose cannon who often publicly puts his own party in the spot and even trains his guns at the state government from time to time.