Punjab Congress Crisis: The two deputy CMs will include one Hindu and one Dalit, hinting at the party considering caste equations as the state goes to polls in about four months from now.
While Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa is likely to succeed Captain Amarinder Singh as the chief minister of Punjab, the Congress is also set to appoint two deputy chief ministers, news agency ANI quoted sources as saying.
The sources said that the two deputy CMs will include one Hindu and one Dalit, hinting at the party considering caste equations as the state goes to polls in about four months from now. Reports suggest that Aruna Chaudhary and Bharat Bhushan Ashu will be the next Deputy Chief Ministers of Punjab, with the former representing the Dalit community.
If finalised, the decision highlights the party’s consideration of caste equations in the state, where it might face stiff challenge from Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, owing to the aftermath of the fallout between Captain and state party president Navjot Singh Sidhu.
The name of Randhawa, the Jails and Cooperation Minister in the outgoing cabinet, was finalised by the All India Congress Committee (AICC) after consultation with the party MLAs in Chandigarh.
Congress veteran Captain Amarinder Singh resigned as chief minister of Punjab with less than five months to go for the Assembly polls after a bruising power struggle with state party chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, and had said that he felt “humiliated” over the way the party handled the protracted crisis.
Randhawa had earlier this year joined hands with Navjot Singh Sidhu, and had targeted his own government over alleged failure to fulfil the promises made in the run-up to the 2017 polls including those related to the sacrilege incidents (in 2015).
The name of senior party leader Ambika Soni was earlier doing the rounds for the CM post but she rejected the offer after a meeting with Rahul Gandhi, asserting that the new chief minister should be from the Sikh community.