Congress Keeps Up Sunday Suspense With 'Reluctant' Ambika Soni in the Mix to Succeed Amarinder Singh

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The intriguing drama in Punjab Congress continued all through Saturday stretching well past midnight, with the party still struggling to zero in on a successor to disgruntled outgoing Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.

The suspense seems to be prolonging as the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) is yet to receive a final nod from Congress president Sonia Gandhi on the successor. Earlier, it was decided that the chosen name would be shared at a CLP meeting to be held at 11 am on Sunday. Sources now say that the name would be announced to the MLAs minutes before a meeting with the Governor likely at 4 pm.

Since late Saturday night, several rounds of discussions have been held by AICC-appointed observers Ajay Maken and Harish Chaudhary besides Punjab affairs in-charge Harish Rawat at a private hotel. Sources said different groups of MLAs led by Sukhjinder Randhawa and Sunil Jakhar have been holding meetings with the observers. Based on their feedback, the observers are in turn holding discussions with party leader Rahul Gandhi.

The central leadership was reportedly keen to announce senior party leader Ambika Soni as the chief minister on Saturday, but the announcement was delayed as pressure groups started lobbying for Sunil Jakhar and Sukhjinder Randhawa. Soni, a Hindu Khatri, too expressed reluctance to accept the offer, sources said, adding that Sonia Gandhi was still trying to convince her to take up the role.

For now, the Sunday suspense is on.

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