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Punjab Congress Crisis, Amarinder Singh Successor May Be Announced Today Amid Flurry Of Meetings


Amarinder Singh Successor May Be Announced Today Amid Flurry Of Meetings

Punjab Congress: The Congress has 80 MLAs in the 117-member Punjab assembly (File)

Chandigarh:
Poll-bound Punjab will get a new Chief Minister today – a day after a “humiliated” Amarinder Singh resigned following a prolonged and bitter feud with Navjot Sidhu that has left the party fighting for survival in one of the few states it still rules.

Here are the top 10 points in this big story:

  1. A meeting of the Congress Legislature Party has been postponed to 1 pm after Rajya Sabha MP Ambika Soni – believed to be the party’s first choice to replace Mr Singh – declined the offer. Sources said Ms Soni said “no” at a late-night meeting with Rahul Gandhi; she stressed on the “ramifications” of a non-Sikh leader of state, particularly with an election due in a few months.

  2. Today’s meeting of the CLP will be the second in as many days. Aware of its precarious position (and of the BJP, AAP and Akalis waiting to pounce), the Congress is keen to ensure the new Chief Minister has the widest possible support. Sources said the CLP will only be summoned once all party MLAs have been consulted and a shortlist of names acceptable to all is drawn up.

  3. Sources have said Sukhjinder Randhawa, a cabinet minister and the Dera Baba Nanak MLA is being considered. Other probables are ex-state unit bosses Sunil Jakhar and Pratap Singh Bajwa. Ravneet Singh Bittu, grandson of the late former Chief Minister Beant Singh, is also an option. Further, a two Deputy Chief Minister formula is also on the cards. Ominously for the Congress, source have also said ‘many are upset with the bad handling’ of this crisis.

  4. Months of sniping and hostility between Amarinder Singh and Navjot Sidhu came to a head Friday night after a sudden meeting of MLAs was announced. Sources told NDTV that around 50 of the party’s 80 MLAs wrote to Sonia Gandhi and asked for the Captain to be replaced.

  5. A furious Mr Singh spoke to Mrs Gandhi and told her he had put up with enough humiliation. “I was humiliated three times by Congress leadership in the past two months…they called MLAs to Delhi twice and convened CLP (MLAs’ meeting) today (Saturday)… they do not have confidence in me… did not think I could handle my job… now up to them to appoint anyone they trust,” he said.

  6. The Captain also told NDTV that although he had resigned, “… for the sake of my country, I’ll oppose his (Navjot Sidhu) name for Chief Minister of Punjab. It’s a matter of national security… is an incompetent man. He was a total disaster in my government.” More worrying, perhaps, was Mr Singh’s response to staying with the party; he said, “I can’t answer that right now.”

  7. The Amarinder Singh-Navjot Sidhu feud has festered for a long time now; it dates back to the 2017 Assembly election, when Mr Sidhu hoped to be made Deputy Chief Minister but was reportedly denied the post by Mr Singh. The former cricketer – who joined the Congress after a stint with the BJP – was instead made a minister but quit two years later after his ministry was downgraded.

  8. Mr Sidhu sulked for a while but re-emerged and began re-targeting Mr Singh, becoming a hard-to-ignore problem in the run-up to polls. The rift escalated sharply in recent weeks, forcing the party into a mediation attempt that turned decidedly sour after Mr Singh made clear his disapproval at Mr Sidhu being made the Punjab Congress chief.

  9. Mr Singh was also upset after the party appeared to ignore his requests – that he sign off on new Working Presidents for the party’s state unit. He was also angry over the absence of an apology from Navjot Sidhu and his continuing attacks.

  10. The tenuous truce further unravelled after controversial statements by advisers appointed by Mr Sidhu, which Mr Singh publicly condemned. Last month, four ministers and around two dozen legislators raised fresh complaints against Mr Singh, setting the stage for the weekend’s drama.



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