The three-member AICC panel, constituted to end factionalism in Punjab Congress, is against announcing a chief ministerial face now.
The panel, which submitted its report to the top leadership on Thursday, also suggested that Navjot Singh Sidhu cannot be ignored and recommended an important party post for him.
Sources, however, told CNN-News18 that Sidhu won’t settle for anything less than the post of the state president or deputy CM — something that Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has put his foot down on.
The committee met both Sidhu and Singh, besides party MLAs and leaders, before submitting the report. It felt, after discussing with MLAs, that it would be risky to announce a chief ministerial face now. Punjab is headed to polls early next year.
In the last assembly polls in 2017 also, the Congress was reluctant to announce a CM candidate, but it was forced to go ahead with Amarinder’s name as the Captain had made it clear he couldn’t ensure the party’s win if he was not declared as the CM face. This propelled party leader Rahul Gandhi to name Amarinder as the CM candidate.
The panel has also recommended a complete overhaul in the state Congress and suggested a coordination committee to ensure that the party gets its act together before the assembly polls.
The Congress high command is expected to advise Amarinder to take everyone along in the party, which may not be an easy task given his ‘Ekla Chalo’ style of functioning.
The Congress is, however, confident that it can win Punjab again as it feels the opposition BJP and SAD are truncated and AAP has no big face to fight the elections.