State-in-charge Harish Chaudhary’s strategy yields positive results.


New Delhi: The infighting in the Congress’ Punjab unit seems to be subsiding in what comes as a relief for the party leadership. If Congress retains power in Punjab, the questions being raised on “weak” leadership of Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will be paused, regardless of the poll results of other states. Observers believe that Congress continues to be on top in the poll-bound Punjab.
In the past, questions were raised on the high command’s decisions from appointment of Navjot Singh Sidhu as PCC chief to elevating Charanjit Singh Channi as chief minister of Punjab. Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s decision to replace Harish Rawat with youth leader Harish Chaudhary as Punjab in charge had raised many eyebrows. But Harish Chaudhary quite efficiently handled the situation resulting from the clash between Sidhu and Channi. By handling the Punjab situation effectively, Chaudhary proved that even younger leaders have political acumen. In fact, Chaudhary was looking after the party work in Punjab as secretary in charge before taking over as a minister in Rajasthan. Rahul gave him the responsibility to keep MLAs together when Captain Amarinder Singh had resigned. Rahul spoke to each and every legislator to take them into confidence before taking a final call on Punjab.
The Punjab crisis deepened after Channi was appointed CM and Amarinder Singh announced his new outfit. What made the situation much worse was that Sidhu also started attacking newly-appointed CM Channi. But Harish Chaudhary handled the situation quite well, displaying political wisdom. He made Sidhu and Channi sit together to resolve the differences, following which decisions were taken regarding organisation and government. After this, the situation came under control. The Congress strategists then managed to dent the AAP. Some of its MLAs were brought in Congress. The message went out that the Congress has emerged stronger. Now, Sidhu and Channi together under the leadership of Chaudhary may persuade leaders from some other parties to join Congress. Sources say that the Congress has also set its eyes on the party of Amarinder Singh.
According to sources, Congress is keeping an eye on those leaders who spoke against the high command in a bid to support Amarinder Singh. Congress strategists believe that Amarinder Singh will not be able to create any impact due to his old age and negative impression he has made. Secondly, Amarinder Singh’s proximity with BJP may benefit Congress, strategists say.
Moreover, the Congress seems to be strong as far as caste equations are concerned. Akali Dal does not have a stalwart like Parkash Singh Badal who is too old now. His son and daughter-in-law are facing several charges. So, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will be the main rival of Congress. The problem with AAP is that it does not have any significant face. The party chief Arvind Kejriwal does not trust others. In the last election, Kejriwal had hinted at becoming CM himself. Kejriwal wants his party to form a government in another state so that he could be CM there and expand his footprint at the national level for that matter. But there are no such indications as of now. Congress has started countering AAP on its own issues. Channi’s decisions on power tariff have silenced his rivals. More such decisions are on the cards. Harish Chaudhary is trying to ensure that Sidhu and Channi remain united so that the Congress could be in power again. That’s the reason why Chaudhary has offered to quit as a minister in Rajasthan citing the formula of one man one post. But this formula will not be implemented now. So, Chaudhary may continue as a minister. Raghu Sharma and Govind Singh Dotasra may also be seen holding two posts.