Cong using Kejriwal formula to settle Punjab CM face issue

The grand old party’s problems in Punjab are not getting over. When the party had decided to contest with a collective leadership, the demand has arisen to announce the Chief Ministerial face.

Taking a cue from the AAP, the Congress has also reached out to its workers and through the Shakti App has sought the response of the party workers. The App was designed during the 2018 elections to take feedback and only registered Congress workers can take part on it and register their preferences. Sources in the party say that incumbent Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi is leading the race for the top job.

But the big question is will the Congress take the risk of antagonizing the other claimants in the party and derail the party prospects in the state as Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is likely to announce the chief minister’s face in his virtual address from Ludhiana city in Punjab on February 6, sources said.

The other claimants like Sunil Jakhar and Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa have already shown their displeasure at being overlooked for the post despite being supported by a majority of the MLAs. Jakhar has claimed that he has the support of 42 MLAs followed by Randhawa who claims 16 MLAs. Both are not on good terms with Navjot Singh Sidhu and are likely to back Channi for the top post.

Both Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu have urged Rahul Gandhi to announce a CM face well ahead of the polls, instead of going with the collective leadership when he had visited the state earlier.

“Both (Channi and Sidhu) have assured me that they will help whoever is named as the CM face,” said Rahul Gandhi, who kicked-off the Congress’ election campaign from Jalandhar after paying obeisance at the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

With his assurance a power struggle is on between Navjot Sidhu and Charanjit Singh Channi, the first Dalit Chief Minister of a state that is home to a 32 per cent Scheduled Caste population, the country’s largest, to be the chief ministerial candidate.

Currently, voters have been getting tele-calls to give their opinion on who the Congress should nominate as its chief ministerial candidate.

Earlier a Twitter poll was conducted by Rahul Gandhi’s aide Nikhil Alva who in the poll asked who should be the Congress CM’s face in Punjab. About 69 per cent respondents voted in favour of Charanjit Singh Channi, the incumbent Chief Minister, followed by Navjot Singh Sidhu getting 12 per cent and then Sunil Jakhar with 9 per cent votes. But they are way behind Channi. The total votes polled were 1,283.

Alva, who is with Rahul Gandhi and looks after his social media outreach, is the son of Margaret Alva. Reacting to it Alva said, “this is a good platform to take political feedback from people having political conscience, there is no harm in it.”

In Punjab, the AAP has named Bhagwant Mann as its CM candidate after his name was cleared by Arvind Kejriwal after receiving over 21 lakh responses from the people, with 93 per cent of them favouring Mann.

Punjab will go to the polls in a single phase on February 20 and the counting of votes will take place on March 10.

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