Chief Minister Channi's Hint For Congress After Navjot Sidhu's Warning

Charanjit Singh Channi refused to comment on who should be named by Congress as its CM face. file


The Congress may have kept any decision on a Chief Minister candidate in Punjab at bay ahead of elections but its two top faces, Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu are not having it.

As Navjot Sidhu said yesterday that “the people of Punjab” will pick the new Chief Minister, as opposed to the party high command, Mr Channi dropped a big hint of his own.

The Congress should announce a chief minister candidate before the election, Mr Channi told a local channel, Pro Punjab TV. “Whenever the party has not announced a Chief Minister candidate, it has lost,” he said when asked whether his party should name a candidate before the February 14 election

“When the party declared its CM candidate during the 2017 elections, it won. Before that, when it did not declare the candidate, it lost. Whenever the party has not announced the CM candidate, it has lost. So the party should announce it,” he said.

Mr Channi refused to comment on who should be named by the party but he talked about people waving at him wherever he went and even breaking through barricades to try and meet him.

The comments by its two main leaders in Punjab presage trouble ahead for the Congress, which has been battling infighting while facing a tough challenge from Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the BJP-Amarinder Singh alliance and the Akali Dal-BSP combine.

While Mr Channi cautiously said the leadership will decide, Mr Sidhu was less subtle yesterday when he asked reporters: “Who told you the high command will pick the Chief Minister?”

Mr Sidhu had been asked about Congress leader Sunil Jakhar’s recent comment that the Congress would not announce a chief ministerial face before the election.

The party will contest the polls under a “joint leadership”, Mr Jakhar had said last month.

“Everyone wants to be CM (Chief Minister). People of Punjab will decide who will be the Chief Minister. Who told you that the (Congress) high command will make the CM?” Navjot Singh Sidhu, state Congress chief, asked as a counter-question.

“Do not have a false implication in your mind. People of Punjab will choose MLAs and they alone will decide who will be the Chief Minister,” Mr Sidhu stressed.

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