Punjab Congress awaits final nod from Sonia Gandhi on Capt Amarinder’s successor

Ambika Soni ‘refuses’ top job | Resolution asks Sonia to take final call

Rajmeet Singh

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19

The suspense over the successor to Capt Amarinder Singh just got a little longer with the CLP awaiting the final nod from Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Sources said tentatively the new CLP leader is scheduled to take oath on Sunday around 4 pm. Earlier, reports from the CLP meeting had suggested that another meeting would be re-convened on Sunday at 11 am to choose the successor. However, sources now tell The Tribune that instead of a full-fledged meeting, the final name from high command would be intimated to the legislators and subsequently the Governor called on.

Yesterday amid reports of AICC general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Ambika Soni’s reluctance to accept the responsibility of the new Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader, AICC-appointed observers Harish Chaudhary and Ajay Maken, and Punjab affairs incharge Harish Rawat had deferred the decision on announcement of the new leader.

Punjab affairs incharge Harish Rawat, AICC-appointed observerAjay Maken and PCC chief Navjot Sidhu in Chandigarh. Pradeep Tewari

Top brass keen on Hindu face

With Hindu face as the CM, the party may appoint a Jat leader and a Dalit face as Deputy Chief Ministers to balance the caste equation. — A senior Congress leader

Within hours of Capt Amarinder Singh resigning as the Chief Minister, 78 party MLAs unanimously passed a resolution authorising party president Sonia Gandhi to decide on the new leader of the CLP. The other front-runners for the post are former PCC chief Sunil Jakhar and MLA Sukhjinder Randhawa.

The resolution was moved by senior party leader Brahm Mohindra. Another resolution moved by observer Maken appreciated the work done by Capt Amarinder Singh during his four-and-a-half-year tenure. Capt Amarinder stayed away from the meeting. Both resolutions have been forwarded to the party chief for a final call.

Efforts were still on to pursue Soni to accept the responsibility as she was the only consensus candidate. Senior leader such as Partap Bajwa and Sidhu are learnt to have reservations over Jakhar's candidature. Contenders such as Sukhjinder Randhawa and Charanjit Channi may agree to Soni's name, given her seniority. Sources said the top brass was keen on putting up a Hindu face as the CLP leader. “With Hindu face as the CM, the party may appoint a Jat leader and a Dalit face as Deputy Chief Ministers to balance the caste equation. Apart from Jakhar, senior leader Brahm Mohindra is another Hindu face,” said a senior party leader.

Sources said as the meeting started and the resolution was signed by the legislators, party leaders on the sidelines took up with Rawat whether to name a Hindu face as the CLP leader or the Sikh leaders who “waged the war” against Capt Amarinder.

TUSSLE WITHIN

April 9: Rebellion comes out in the open after HC quashes SIT report in the Kotkapura firing case

April 27: Then PCC chief Sunil Jakhar & Cabinet minister Sukhjinder Randhawa offer to quit on the issue

May 5: Rebel ministers join hands with Navjot Sidhu, other party leaders against Capt Amarinder Singh

May 7: Sidhu gets support of more MLAs, prompting party chief Sonia Gandhi to form a committee to look into squabbling

May 29: Panel headed by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge formed to listen to the grievances

June 11: Panel in report recommends keeping Capt in command, accommodating Sidhu by giving him a role in state unit

July 19: Sidhu takes charge as PCC chief, Capt opposes move. Four MLAs appointed his deputy, paving way for revamp in organisational structure

Aug 25: Rebels Sukhjinder Randhawa, Tript Bajwa, Sukbinder Sarkaria, Charanjit Channi and some MLAs call meeting of 40 MLAs seeking Capt’s ouster

Aug 28: CM resists campaign by rebels; pitches rebels’ adversaries such as Partap Bajwa against them

Sept 1: Punjab affairs in charge Harish Rawat meets Sidhu and Captain separately to defuse tension

Sept 17: AICC sends observers to conduct CLP meeting and oust Capt Amarinder Singh as CM

Sept 18: Capt Amarinder Singh submits resignation to Punjab Governor

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