A ‘poor man’ will be the CM face of Congress in Punjab. Rahul Gandhi declared the Chief Minister candidate for Punjab in a rally in Ludhiana. After wide speculations, the age-old party finally took the plunge and decided between a Jat Sikh Navjot Singh Sidhu and a Dalit face Charanjit Singh Channi.
Rahul Gandhi said in the rally that Congress does not own the legacy of declaring the CM face but is being done keeping in mind the need of the hour. The dimensions of Politics have changed and to fight with the personality-driven politics, Rahul realized that it is necessary to project a CM face.
Congress’ decision to project Channi
In Punjab, Congress is trying to contest elections based on Charanjit Singh Channi’s tenure of 111 days. The Congress seems reluctant in portraying the work done by the Punjab government under Captain Amarinder’s leadership.
The Congress by projecting Channi as the CM face is trying to counter the narratives set by other parties. As always, Congress has no agenda of its own. And is just trying to ride on the roads constructed by others.
The Dalit Narrative
Several narratives are running in Punjab. The parties want to play their bets on the feel of Punjab and Punjabiyat. Akali Dal had aligned with BSP to hunt the Dalit votes in Punjab. To counter their Dalit Narrative, Congress, in turn, projected its ‘Dalit Face’ to consolidate the 32% population belonging to the same section.
Insiders Vs Outsiders
To counter the AAP, Congress projected an insider with a so-called clean record. Channi even during his address was found saying that, ‘electing AAP’s Bhagwant Mann would mean that Punjab will have no Government after 6 PM.’ AAP has been targeted as an outsider based in Delhi who is trying to rule Punjab.
The major focus of Channi’s campaign will be around work against sand mafias, reducing electricity prices, scrapping power purchase agreements among others. The prime focus may also remain around Channi’s promise to create one lakh jobs for youth.
Punjab: A Row of Tussles
Punjab has seen a row of tussles. The top leadership was removed. The grand old party has been ruling Punjab after it won the 2017 assembly elections. but there was quite an evident tussle to remove the incumbent Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh. A political coup led by Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) head Navjot Singh Sidhu was used to discard the CM from his post.
Sidhu earlier had revealed his political ambitions. And Sidhu clearly saw his chance after he led the coup against Captain from the front. But he was very wisely ditched by the party high command i.e., the Gandhis and Charanjit Singh Channi, a leader having no clout in state politics was picked to replace Captain.
The main reason behind picking Channi was to counter the accusations raised on Congress. Congress has been constantly accused of only catering to Jat Sikhs. Congress here has tried to build a narrative, that Congress has replaced a Jat Sikh (Captain) and handed power to Dalit leader instead of another Jat Sikh (Sidhu)
Channi: Priyanka’s favourite
Channi faced backlash after he accepted in front of the media, that he briefed Priyanka Gandhi who is Congress General Secretary for Uttar Pradesh elections. In the tussle, Navjot Singh Sidhu was Rahul and Sonia’s favourite as he left no stone unturned to remove Captain. Whereas on the other side, Charanjit Singh Channi was backed by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra keeping the arithmetic of Punjab in mind.
In the tussle between Priyanka and Rahul, Priyanka has proven her power by making Rahul declare Channi as the CM face. Priyanka has proven her mettle by announcing a candidate she backed as the CM candidate of Punjab.
Congress always wants a pawn
Congress has a particular way of functioning. Rahul Gandhi may have been vocal about handing over the party’s leadership to a non-Gandhi. But the truth is that the Gandhi family always wants to have a firm hold on the party. In the quest to monopolise the power to their hands the Gandhi family have handicapped the party.
Congress always focuses to have a pawn. Congress’s major way to have a hold on the power is by making some loyalist who aligns with the party line sit on the chair. Congress has always invested in ‘Manmohans’.
Charanjit Singh Channi simply fits in the description of a ‘Manmohan’ in the state of Punjab and hence he has been chosen as a face of Congress in Punjab, as Congress would never bet on a leader like Sidhu, whom they cannot control.