Will he, won’t he?
Congress leaders are speculating if party vice-president Rahul Gandhi will announce state head Captain Amarinder Singh as its chief ministerial face during his three-day election campaign in Punjab, set to begin on January 27.
Gandhi will campaign with Amarinder, and party strategists as well as loyalists of the former chief minister are trying to make the visit newsworthy by advising him to leave no room for ambiguity as far as the party’s chief ministerial choice is concerned. They believe such a move would help Amarinder in the high-stakes battle against Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal at Lambi, and also corner the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) – which has not named its candidate either.
Though the state Congress is still divided on the matter, those advocating the early declaration of Amarinder as the chief ministerial face say it will silence both Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Badal and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal – who have been mocking Amarinder ever since cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu entered the party.
While the SAD chief tweeted that Amarinder had been sent to Lambi to make way for Sidhu, Kejriwal has also been giving him sleepless nights by predicting that Sidhu was the Congress’ likely choice for chief minister.
However, Amarinder’s detractors say making such a declaration would wreck the intra-party unity that has been achieved with so much effort. To drive home their point, they cite how such a move had proved counter-productive in the 2012 polls – when the Congress faced its second defeat in a row.
Though the Congress has confirmed Gandhi’s travel dates, the places where he will hold road shows and address rallies are yet to be finalised.