Ambika Soni not keen on becoming Punjab CM, turns down Congress high command’s offer: Sources

New Delhi: Amid the present leadership crisis in Punjab, veteran Congress leader Ambika Soni has reportedly told the party high command that she is not too keen on becoming the chief minister of the state, sources said on Sunday.

Soni rejected the offer at a late-night meeting with her senior party colleague Rahul Gandhi, sources added. According to sources, Soni also made it clear to the party top brass that the next Punjab should be ‘Sikh’, and not doing so will certainly have political “ramifications”.

After the refusal, the Congress which wanted Ambika Soni to become the CM after Capt Amarinder Singh resigned, is now considering other names, including Pratap Singh Bajwa, Sukhwinder Singh Randhawa and Ravneet Singh Bittu. Earlier, the party had decided to appoint Sunil Jhakhar as the Chief Minister, but now the party leadership is having second thoughts on his name.

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi had called a late-night meeting during which party leader Ambika Soni, general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal were present. The meeting ended post-midnight on Sunday.

Sources said the discussion on a new chief minister was held and also strategy to pacify Amarinder Singh was also discussed. Since Ambika Soni hails from Punjab, the party leadership wanted her to become the Chief Minister till elections are held. The party reportedly wants to project a non-Sikh face ahead of the polls to counter the AAP which is gaining ground in the state.

Meanwhile, the Congress party legislators are set to meet the three political observers for Punjab today to pick the new chief minister for Punjab after Capt Amarinder Singh’s resignation from the post. After holding a meeting with the Punjab Congress MLAs, the three observers will report back to the party high command for a decision on who would be the next Chief Minister.

A section of Punjab Congress leaders, including the supporters of Capt Amarinder Singh, is reportedly upset with his unceremonious exit and the bad handling of the matter by the Congress high command. Singh tendered his resignation months ahead of the crucial assembly elections in Punjab. 

Capt Amarinder Singh has clearly ruled out accepting Navjot Singh Sidhu as his successor and said that he will not quit politics and explore all options. “Navjot Singh Sidhu is an incompetent man. He was a total disaster in my government. He couldn’t run one ministry I gave him. He did not clear files for seven months,” the former Chief Minister had said.

Among the front runners for the CM’s post are – former Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar, party state chief Navjot Singh Sidhu and minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa and Congress MP Partap Singh.

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