While the high command and Punjab leaders of the Congress are still going over it in New Delhi, the call on appointing a new state unit chief will now be taken after the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meets on Tuesday (September 8).
All-India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Shakeel Ahmad, who is in charge of Punjab affairs in the party, told HT that the central party leadership was focussed on the coming CWC meeting in the national capital and "any decision on the state unit chief is likely to be taken after that".
More than two years of verbal war between Punjab party president Partap Singh Bajwa and party's deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, Captain Amarinder Singh, has forced Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi to initiate a series of meetings with senior leaders of the state to resolve the crisis and forge unity before the 2017 assembly elections. Ever since Bajwa replaced him as Punjab Congress president in March 2013, Amarinder is openly critical of his leadership ability and, on several occasions, has asked the party high command to even sack him.
During the deliberations, Rajya Sabha member Ambika Soni has emerged as the frontrunner for the post of Punjab Congress president, even though sources say there is no consensus yet. This is why the high command is not rushing her appointment, as any wrong decision could put the party in further trouble in the next assembly elections.
While Bajwa, senior Congress leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and even Lal Singh, who himself was in the race for being the next state party president, have conveyed to the high command that they have no objection to Soni's appointment, Amarinder has been rooting for state Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar, his loyalist, whom he considers suited best to hold the post.
The delay in the outcome of the deliberations over handing over command of the Punjab Congress has left the party in an abyss in the state. The high command has told Bajwa already to put on hold all functions scheduled after September 4, which included a demonstration outside the Kiri Afghana sugar mill on Sunday and a political rally in Gurdaspur on September 13.