Power Games: Captain Amarinder Singh may follow loyalists back to Punjab Congress

Most of the Congress leaders have returned to the party fold. But the top defectors – Amarinder and Sunil Jakhar – have stayed out.
Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh (Photo| PTI)
Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh (Photo| PTI)

Reverse Migration
Captain may follow loyalists back to Cong

Captain Amarinder Singh led a huge round of defection in the state Congress when he was removed as chief minister of Punjab by the party’s high command. Most top leaders of the state Congress, including former ministers and MLAs, left the party. A large number of them followed Amarinder to the BJP. Some went to the Shiromani Akali Dal led by Sukhbir Singh Badal. The last couple of months have seen a reverse migration.

Most of the Congress leaders have returned to the party fold. But the top defectors – Amarinder and Sunil Jakhar – have stayed out. Jakhar has been appointed president of the BJP’s Punjab unit. Amarinder was expected to be inducted either as a Union minister or a state governor. But he has been kept out in the cold for over a year after joining the BJP. Sources said Priyanka Gandhi has been in frequent touch with him and discussions on his return to the Congress have been taking place.

The talks are stuck on the role to be given to Amarinder. According to sources Amarinder wants to return as state Congress president with full command of the party unit. The Congress high command, however, is working on generational change in the party and has been promoting younger leaders. It is reportedly ready to give the octogenarian leader a place in the Congress Working Committee, besides offering him a Lok Sabha ticket in the 2024 elections. Discussions are on and an announcement is likely soon.

Sweet Revenge
Maken to take final call on Gehlot’s men

Ajay Maken had resigned from the post of All India Congress Committee’s (AICC) Rajasthan in-charge after ministers loyal to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot refused to allow him and Mallikarjun Kharge to meet state MLAs. Kharge and Maken were sent by the party high command to Rajasthan to get the views of MLAs on the demand raised by Sachin Pilot for the change of chief minister. But two ministers – Shanti Dhariwal and Mahesh Joshi – prevented the MLAs from meeting the two AICC leaders, reportedly 
at the behest of Gehlot. The Gehlot camp demanded that the AICC leaders meet the MLAs as a group and not individually. The AICC leaders then demanded a one-line resolution authorising the Congress president to take a final call on who would head the state government.

This, too, was turned down by the Gehlot camp. An angry Maken termed this as indiscipline and sought action against the two ministers leading the CM’s group. When Kharge, as new Congress president, did not act against Gehlot’s errant ministers, Maken resigned as AICC in-charge of Rajasthan. In a twist of fate, Maken has been given the powerful post of party treasurer. He has also been asked to take a final call on disputed seats in the current assembly elections. This has put the fate of all the Gehlot loyalists in Maken’s hands. Sources said Maken is not in favour of giving tickets to Shanti Dhariwal and Mahesh Joshi as he feels their actions have undermined the prestige of the party’s high command. Gehlot has met Maken twice to seek his support.

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The New Indian Express