With just months to go for Punjab Assembly polls, state Congress campaign committee chief Sunil Jakhar on Wednesday made it clear that the party will not announce a chief ministerial face and will fight polls under collective leadership.
Jakhar, the former president of Punjab Congress, said the party had never named its CM face adding that it was only an exception that the Congress high command had declared Captain Amarinder Singh as the chief ministerial candidate in the run-up to the 2017 state assembly polls.
“We had never announced chief ministerial face before Assembly elections except in 2017, which was an exception. Now also we will not announce chief ministerial face and will contest Assembly elections 2022 under the joint leadership of Congress,” Jakhar said on Wednesday.
The screening committee, constituted under All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Ajay Maken for the selection of candidates, held a meeting in the national capital today which was attended by Jakhar, Maken and Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Notably, Sidhu has been pushing for an announcement of the chief ministerial face in Punjab polls and obliquely positioning himself for the position.
According to sources in the party, majority of the state leaders are in favour of collective leadership in fighting polls to balance caste equations in the state. With the announcement of the opting for collective leadership, the party is seemingly avoiding the risk of vote polarisation.
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi is a Dalit face and is likely to garner votes from the Dalit community. Notably, the party has placed its top faces in a combination of castes by appointing Navjot Singh Sidhu, who is a Jat Sikh, as the president of the Punjab Congress and Sunil Jakhar, who is a Jat, as chief of the election campaign committee. Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa is a Jat Sikh, while another Deputy Chief Minister OP Soni comes from a Hindu community.
In the 2017 Punjab Assembly polls, Congress won an absolute majority in the state by winning 77 seats and ousted the SAD-BJP government after 10 years.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had emerged as the second-largest party winning 20 seats in the 117-member Punjab Legislative Assembly. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bharatiya Janata Pary (BJP) had won 15 and 3 seats respectively.