Punjab Congress Crisis Updates: Amid several names doing the rounds for the CM post, former party state president Sunil Jakhar is believed to the frontrunner.
Amid a power tussle with Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu that polarised the ruling party, Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday stepped down as the chief minister. The development comes just about four months ahead of the assembly polls in the state.
Singh’s resignation came hours before a crucial meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) on Saturday evening, pre-empting what was widely being seen as a move to remove him from the CM’s post.
In the meeting, Punjab Congress MLAs authorised party’s national president Sonia Gandhi to pick a new CLP leader and in a unanimously passed resolution praised Amarinder’s contribution for Punjab and the Congress.
Amid several names doing the rounds for the CM post, former party state president Sunil Jakhar is believed to the frontrunner. He won the elections from Gurdaspur earlier and is known for making religious appeals at public events, where he has been quoting Guru Granth Sahib. He would be the first time after the reorganisation of Punjab in 1966, when the state got bifurcated into Punjab and Haryana, that there would be a Hindu chief minister.
Sidhu, the state party president and a former minister in the outgoing Amarinder Singh government, has also presented himself as the successor. A former Indian cricketer, Sidhu was divested of the portfolio of local bodies department in 2019 and since then he has been at loggerheads with Capt Amarinder.
Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa is also among the probable candidates for the post. The latter is the Jails and Cooperation Minister in the outgoing cabinet of Captain Amarinder Singh.
Rajya Sabha MP and senior Congress leader Partap Singh Bajwa is another name among the list of probables for the chief ministerial position.
The effective tenure of the next Punjab CM will, however, be brief given that the assembly elections in the state is scheduled in February 2022 and the fact that the model code of conduct will be imposed in the state by the Election Commission well in advance. Going by the precedent of 2017 polls, the code of conduct should kick in by first week of January 2022 and this will leave the new Chief Minister a little over 12 weeks to make an impact.