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Sidhu and Channi cross swords for Punjab Chief Minister’s post with Rahul Gandhi seated on stage

Rahul gandhi with Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu and Chief Minister Charanjit Channi.

The fight for the chief minister’s post between Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu and Chief Minister Charanjit Channi came to the centrestage during senior leader Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the state on Thursday to kick off the party’s poll campaign.

On the stage set in Jalandhar for the launching of the virtual campaign rally, in the presence of the senior leadership, the PPCC president Navjot Singh Sidhu and Chief Minister Charanjit Channi urged Rahul to declare the CM candidate of the Congress before the elections.

Rahul who had come to launch the campaign by outlining the party’s  programme if it comes to power in the state, ended up mostly talking about the need to unitedly fight the election.

He was also made to announce that very soon the Congress will declare its Chief Ministerial candidate be it Sidhu or Channi.

Sunil Jakhar's name was not mentioned although until now the party had been saying that the election will be fought under the joint leadership of Sidhu, Channi and Jakhar.

Setting a new precedent Rahul said that the opinion of party workers will be taken to choose the CM’s face. He did not elaborate whether the workers will be asked to vote via a designated phone number or some sort of survey will be conducted through social media.

However, Sidhu while agreeing to accept the decision of the high command emphasized that he should not be reduced to a mere "showpiece." Sidhu also told Rahul that people want to know which leader has the road map to the progress of the state. He sarcastically added, "people cannot be fooled by offering lollypops" referring to the election-eve sops announced by Channi. 

On the other hand, Channi while thanking Rahul for choosing him for the CM's post said that if the high command had found his 111 days rule satisfactory, he may be given a full term of five years.

Rahul appears to have taken a leaf out of AAP chief Arvind Kelriwal’s book in making his suggestion. Kejriwal had asked the people of the state to choose the party’s CM candidate for Punjab by giving their opinion on a designated phone helpline set up for the purpose.

A few days ago Nikhil Alva, a top honcho of the Congress who looks after social media, had conducted a survey on Twitter asking people about their choice for the Chief Ministerial post. The majority of the people favoured Channi as Sidhu fell far behind with a huge difference of votes.

Insiders maintain that the high command may announce the Chief Ministerial candidate only a couple of days before the voting date because it would want all the factions to campaign vigorously till the end.

Also read:  Badal’s kin Majithia takes on Sidhu in Amritsar (East) as fight for political survival heats up