A meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) in Punjab has been called for December 7 to elect its new leader. Former CLP leader Sunil Jakhar had put in his papers last week to make way for an organisational revamp.
Following a communique from Congress general secretary in-charge of Punjab affairs, Shakeel Ahmad, that observers for the meeting had been appointed by the party high command, newly appointed senior vice-president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) Lal Singh has called a meeting of the party MLAs on Monday at Congress Bhawan in Chandigarh at 2 pm.
Going by the party’s tradition, the MLAs would pass a one-line resolution authorising party president Sonia Gandhi to appoint the new CLP leader. But newly appointed Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh on Thursday openly batted for Jakhar. “I would like Jakhar to continue as the CLP leader. Not only has he performed well as CLP leader by raking up public issues in the Assembly, he also enjoys respect within the party and ruling alliance MLAs. It is the prerogative of the party high command to take a decision, I will request them to retain Jakhar. He enjoys the confidence of the party high command for his clear political thought and leadership skills,” Amarinder told HT. A closed-door meeting was also held on the issue.
Though the party has tried to do a balancing act by appointing Dalit MLA Sadhu Singh Dharamsot as vice-chairman of the campaign committee, another Dalit MLA Charanjit Singh Channi is in the reckoning for the CLP leader’s post owing to over 30% SC population in Punjab. Channi belongs to the dominant Ravidassia community among SCs. The name of Dalit MLA Raj Kumar Verka is also doing the rounds. Other contenders are Lal Singh and Hindu leaders Brahm Mohindra, Ashwani Sekhri and OP Soni.
With Punjab just over a year away from state elections, the post of CLP leader assumes importance as he/she is part of the election committee that takes a call on the ticket allotment.