New Delhi: The problems in the Punjab Congress do not seem to be going away. As the high command is in the process of selecting a CM candidate -- between incumbent chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi and PCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu -- a video has gone viral of former PCC chief Sunil Jakhar claiming that a majority of MLAs had backed him for CM after Capt. Amarinder Singh was forced to quit. Mr Jakhar is now campaign committee chief of the Congress in the state.
Addressing party workers in his native village, Mr Jakhar said: "God does whatever is right. I have no regrets. Today I am telling you a fact -- that when former CM Capt. Amarinder Singh had left the Congress in September last year, all 79 MLAs were asked to vote for the next CM. At that time, 42 voted for me, 16 for Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, 12 for Preneet Kaur (Amarinder Singh’s wife), six for Navjot Singh Sidhu and only two for Charanjit Singh Channi." The Congress finds itself in an embarrassing situation with the public remarks of its former state unit chief.
In the last couple of weeks, both Mr Channi and Mr Sidhu have been vocal that the Congress high command should announce a CM face for the coming elections. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said while he was touring Punjab recently that the party will soon take a call. Mr Channi has publicly said he will abide by the party’s choice of CM candidate.
While Mr Sidhu may not be large-hearted enough, his ambition of taking over as CM is well known. Interestingly, he has been presenting his "Punjab model" to the people. The Congress has, meanwhile, started a tele-voting campaign to get public responses on who they want as CM. This move comes after its main challenger Aam Aadmi Party conducted a tele-voting exercise and then announced Bhagwant Mann as its chief ministerial candidate. In this system, the Congress is offering only two names -- Mr Channi and Mr Jakhar.
Insiders claim Mr Channi may be the high command’s choice as they are happy with his performance, and he is also a dalit CM. Several leaders claim Mr Jakhar is also interested in the top job in the state. It will be a tight balancing act for the Congress to keep all sections happy. The state goes to the polls on February 20.