A video of Punjab Congress leader Sunil Jakhar, claiming that a majority of MLAs had backed him for the Chief Minister post after Amarinder Singh quit, has sparked a buzz, adding yet another twist to the Congress’s campaign for the crucial state election.
In the video that has now gone viral, Mr Jakhar, who has been appointed the Congress’s campaign committee chief, is heard saying in Punjabi that he has no complaints and “God does whatever is right”.
After Amarinder Singh was forced to step down following a bitter tussle within the ruling party, a majority of legislators chose him for the Chief Minister’s seat, Mr Jakhar said.
“46 MLAs voted for me, 16 for Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, 12 for Preneet Kaur, 6 for Navjot Singh Sidhu and 2 for (Charanjit Singh) Channi,” the Jat leader says as people in the gathering laugh.
Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa was widely tipped to be the Chief Minister before the Congress declared Mr Channi for the top post.
Mr Jakhar had earlier criticised the Charanjit Singh Channi government over the breach in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security during his visit to Punjab.
As the elections approach, Mr Channi has been trying to project himself as an accessible Chief Minister, in sharp contrast to Mr Singh.
One of his key challengers in the party is state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu who has frequently spoken out against the state government’s policies.
During his recent visit to the poll-bound state, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the party will soon announce a Chief Minister candidate, stressing that “two people can’t lead, only one can”.
While Mr Sidhu said he will abide by Rahul Gandhi’s decision “like a disciplined soldier”, he made it clear that he wanted more decision-making power and would not be treated like a “showpiece”.
The Congress has, meanwhile, started a televoting campaign to get public response on who they want as Chief Minister. The move comes after main challenger Aam Aadmi Party conducted a televoting exercise and then announced Bhagwant Mann as its Chief Minister candidate.
The BJP took a swipe at arch-rival Congress after the video went viral. “It’s not new. When Nehruji had become (Congress) chief, everyone supported (Sardar Vallabhbhai) Patel Ji, not him. If Patel Ji wasn’t respected, how can you expect it for Jakhar Ji,” Union Minister and senior BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi told news agency ANI.