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Congress party cadre confused in Punjab as top guns take pot shots at each other

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi (Left), Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Navjot Singh Sidhu (Centre) and former PPCC chief Sunil Jhakhar (Right)

The decision of the Congress high command to contest the Punjab elections under the joint leadership of Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi (a Dalit face), Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Navjot Singh Sidhu (a Jat Sikh face) and former PPCC chief Sunil Jhakhar (a Hindu face) does not seem to have gone down well with its cadres in the state.

The Congress high command has decided this time not to project any individual as the CM face in any of the five states going to polls. But this has led to all-round confusion in the Punjab unit.

All the three probable Chief Ministerial faces are seen to be working at cross purposes. Sidhu has made his desire to become the CM obvious in more than one way. He has gone on record saying CM, this time will be elected by the people of Punjab, undermining the authority of the high command.  However, as per precedent, it is always high command which names the CM of the state after the legislature party authorises it unanimously.

On the other hand Channi says that the CM will be elected by the MLAs with the blessings of the high command.

Jakhar has many times expressed his disenchantment with the party on various counts. He has been disapproving the working style of both Sidhu and Channi.

In the one upmanship Sidhu has come out with his own model of governance, but other party leaders including Channi and Jhakhar have criticised it saying that there will be only Congress' model of governance. Models projected by individuals are not acceptable.

Sidhu has openly ridiculed freebies offered by the Chief Minister. He has disclosed that the government coffers are empty and people need not be-fooled by the announcements being made by Channi. Though he himself at one stage announced Rs 2000 to every woman 18 years of age every month and eight has cylinders per annum. This perhaps was to match Channi in announcing populist measures.

The criss-cross talk of these leaders seems to have confused the party cadre and the people at large which will adversely affect the electoral prospects of Congress.

Insiders say that in the 2017 Punjab assembly elections, the Congress had declared Captain Amarinder Singh's name as CM during the poll campaign. This gave clarity to the cadre with regard to the power centre which was only one. The party had won 78 seats out of a total of 117. But this time around with multiple power centres, unity of thought and action is missing which is expected to cost Congress dearly.