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Manish Tewari frontrunner for Punjab Congress President's post

IANS | June 15, 2021 05:40 PM

NEW DELHI: After the panel set up by the Congress on Punjab submitted its report on the factionalism in its state unit, a change of guard looks imminent with the All India Congress Committee (AICC) looking for a suitable replacement for current Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) President Sunil Jakhar.

Sources said that former Union minister and Anandpur Sahib MP Manish Tewari is the frontrunner for the top post in Punjab, while the names of Vijay Inder Singla and Raj Kumar Verka are also being considered.

Tewari is a known face in Delhi and Punjab's political circles and has the backing of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. Moreover, he can be appointed to woo the non-Sikh voters in the state, as he has been an MP from Ludhiana which has a large number of non-Sikh and migrant electorate.

AICC Secretary Vijay Inder Singla is a minister in the Punjab government, who is known to be close to the set up in former Congress President Rahul Gandhi's office.

The dark horse is Raj Kumar Verka, a Dalit leader from the Valmiki community. Verka is an MLA from Amritsar and has been the Vice Chairman of the SC Commission.

The probability of Verka being elevated to the top post in Punjab Congress has gathered momentum after the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) recently formed an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to contest the 2022 Punjab Assembly elections together.

Meanwhile, the panel for Punjab has submitted its report and met Rahul Gandhi to brief him about the situation in the state.

Sources said that the panel has not recommended the removal of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who is likely to lead the party in next year's Assembly elections. Instead, a slew of reforms have been suggested in the party's state unit.

While the fate of Navjot Singh Sidhu is still not clear, sources said the panel wants him back in the Punjab cabinet. Though Amarimder Singh is averse to Sidhu being elevated to the post of Deputy Chief Minister, he is ready to accommodate him in the cabinet, sources said.

The panel headed by senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge and comprising the party's Punjab in-charge Harish Rawat and former MP J.P. Aggarwal met all the stakeholders recently. Amarinder Singh too had met the three-member panel in the national capital.

After the meeting, Amarinder Singh had said, "The meeting was to discuss the preparations for the Assembly elections scheduled early next year. These are our inner party discussions and I don't propose to share them with the media."

The rift in Punjab Congress had surfaced after former cabinet minister Sidhu along with Pargat Singh had opened a front against Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

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