Even as it gave party president Sonia Gandhi all the power to ‘take the final decision’, the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) also passed another resolution on Saturday where it thanked and praised the efforts of outgoing chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh. This despite the disgruntled ex-CM publicly venting against the party and Sonia about he felt ‘humilated and wronged’. LIVE Updates
Though the CLP was expected to deliberate and finalise the name of the successor, it chose to leave the decision to Sonia. The party leaders claimed that a decision will be taken soon.
Though a few names are doing the rounds, the front runner for the post seems to be former party state president Sunil Jakhar who despite being a Hindu and a non-Sikh face is the likely consensus candidate. Senior party leaders point out that he has been working closely with the Captain for four years as party president so is known to all party MLAs despite their differences. He has won elections from Gurdaspur earlier and is also known for touching the religious chord, frequently quoting from the Guru Granth Sahib at public events.
The other names doing the rounds include Rajya Sabha MP and senior Congress leader Partap Singh Bajwa, a foe-turned-friend of the former CM. Bajwa has expressed his willingness to contest the forthcoming assembly elections and hopes that he would be the dark horse in the race for the top post amid the ongoing rift between the former CM and PPCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Though there are questions over his election as the Sidhu camp believes he nurtures his own political ambitions. Among the MLAs known to be in the Sidhu camp and who had raised the first signs of revolt against Captain include former Cabinet Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa who would not mind being the `caretaker’ CM thus keeping the Sidhu camp in power till elections are declared.
With a considerable number of voters belonging to the Hindu community, names like those of Raj Kumar Verka are also being considered as a possible contender, which would suit the equation of having a Jat face in the form of Sidhu and Hindu Chief Minister in the form of Verka.
Senior Congress leader Ajay Maken, who was one of the two central observers deputed by the party, told reporters that 78 of 80 party MLAs were present in the meeting and a decision would be taken soon.