Punjab Cong Crisis: Captain Amarinder Steps Down, Who Can Be the New CM?

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As a crisis brews in Punjab Congress, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has resigned from the Congress party. This comes after he was asked to step down from the post by the party high command.

Meanwhile, rebel party leaders have also been demanding Singh's removal ahead of the 2022 Punjab Assembly elections.

Punjab Congress in-charge, Harish Rawat, took to Twitter on Friday to announce that the meet will take place on Saturday, 19 September, at 5:00 pm.

But if Captain Amarinder Singh steps down, who is likely to take his place as the Chief Minister of Punjab? Here are some probables:

NAVJOT SINGH SIDHU

Sidhu, president of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, has been making headlines not only for his protracted tussle with CM Amarinder, but also for trading barbs with the Aam Aadmi Party, Shiromani Akali Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of Punjab polls.

But, Sidhu was also previously with the Bharatiya Janata Party (2004-2016), before joining the Congress in 2017.

One of his major achievements has been his role in facilitating the opening up of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor in 2018. This was a long-standing demand of the Sikh community.

Most recently, Sidhu has been at the heart of the feud in Punjab Congress; which intensified with Sidhu censuring CM Amarinder Singh in May, alleging that his colleagues were being threatened for raising questions on the state government’s handling of the ‘sacrilege’ case and for speaking the truth on the matter.

But differences between Captain and Sidhu began barely a year after the Congress came to power in the state. Political analysts believe that Sidhu had a larger role in mind for himself when he joined the Congress before the 2017 elections but found himself being stymied by Captain.

SUNIL JAKHAR

Sunil Jakhar was the President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee before Sidhu.

Elected three times consecutively from Abohar constituency, he was a Leader of opposition in Punjab Vidhan Sabha for a period spanning 2012-2017.

In October 2017, he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Gurdaspur, Punjab. In 2019, he lost the election from Gurdaspur to BJP candidate and actor Sunny Deol.

He is known to be 'decent' and 'polite' in his interactions and could be a possible consensus candidate between the warring factions.

PRATAP SINGH BAJWA

Bajwa, too, was formerly Punjab Congress President. He has also served as a member of the Lok Sabha, representing Gurdaspur in Punjab (2009-2014).

He is presently a Member of the Rajya Sabha from Punjab.

Once a strong rival of Captain, the duo are said to have buried the hatchet earlier this year.

AMBIKA SONI

Ambika Soni, presently a Member of Parliament (MP), has served as the Minister of Information and Broadcasting in Manmohan Singh’s government. Prior to that, she was Minister of Tourism and Minister of Culture.

Soni has also previously served as president of the Indian Youth Congress and the All India Mahila Congress.

During a period spanning from 1999 - 2006, she was the General Secretary of All India Congress Committee.

RAJ KUMAR VERKA

Raj Kumar Verka is an MLA, representing Amritsar West and has been a loyalist of Captain Amarinder Singh. He is a known Dalit face of the Congress.

He was first elected to the legislative assembly in 2002, after having contested from Verka constituency.

Verka was also, formerly, vice chairman of National Commission for Scheduled Castes.

(With inputs from Aditya Menon)

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