Will he or won’t he? Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s three-day Punjab campaign from January 27 has set off speculations in the party if he would end the suspense by announcing state party chief Captain Amarinder Singh as the chief ministerial candidate.
Though the Congress confirmed the dates of his travel, they said the places where Rahul will hold roadshows and address a rally have yet to be finalised.
He and Amarinder will be campaigning together and party strategists and Captain loyalists are trying to make Rahul’s visit newsworthy and a “gamechanger” by advising him to leave no ambiguity on who would be party’s CM face.
Such a move, they believe, would help Amarinder in the high-stakes battle at Lambi against Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal and also corner the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which has failed to name its CM face.
Though the party is divided on whether Rahul should do so, those advocating it argue the announcement will silence both Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal and AAP chief and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal who have been mocking Amarinder following cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu’s entry into the Congress.
Sukhbir had tweeted that Amarinder has been sent to Lambi to make way for Sidhu. Kejriwal too has been rubbing salt on Captain’s anxiety by dubbing Sidhu the party’s CM face.
Those against Amarinder warn it would end the hardearned semblance of unity in the party as the move had proved counter-productive in 2012 polls when Rahul had announced Amarinder as the party’s CM face days ahead of polls yet the Congress had faced a second defeat in a row.