Punjab politics has been getting very personal, and then openly public, but at all times frictional and escalating. Not to forget, a subject of divisive speculations. On Saturday, it reached a breaking point with the Punjab Governor accepting the resignation of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and that of his Council of Ministers. The CM will, however, continue in office, till alternative arrangements are made. But what does his resignation mean for the Congress in Punjab? More importantly, who will be the next Chief Minister? Do the Akalis and AAP stand to benefit from the latest political development? While there are no clear answers, we read between the lines.
But, the Captain is here to stay
When IBTimes reached out to Raveen Thukral, media adviser to Captain Amarinder Singh, he did not respond. In the interviews that have followed, the CM has made amply clear, his intention to be an active part of the political scape of the state. He said he is not leaving politics and claims to be active in the upcoming Assembly Polls
What does it mean for Congress?
But first, who in the Congress leadership has catalysed the decision? The Captain minced no words in calling, "humiliation" at the hands of Congress leadership behind his resignation. "It's a clear case of humiliation," he said in an interview to India Today.
While not taking names, Punjab CM held the Congress' Delhi leadership responsible for his decision. "Humiliation means when you don't have confidence in your Chief Minister and you are calling MLAs and MPs as to how the CM is doing. Not once, or twice but thrice you call them."
Responding to rumours that he felt humiliated by the Gandhi siblings, Captain said, "I cannot say that. I do not know for a fact who is responsible. But I know that CLP meeting was called without my knowing and I only came to know at 8 o clock this morning…somebody pushed me out, now who is behind it? I do not know." It must be noted that CLP meeting has been strongly speculated as a move to discuss his removal.
Five months to go for polls
It is impossible to not read the current development in the state against the backdrop of upcoming Punjab Assembly Polls, scheduled in the next five to six months. Meanwhile, the Congress Legislature Party has authorised Sonia Gandhi to select the next leader. Among the names doing the rounds of rumour mills, that of Punjab Congress President Sunil Jakhar happens to be at the forefront.
In case if Navjot Singh Sidhu is considered, let alone made the face of the Punjab Congress as a CM of the state, it's a decision that'll have much uglier repercussions for the party. "I will fight him tooth and nail…I cannot allow such a man to destroy us, I will continue to fight the issues that are bad for this State and its people," he further said in the interview.
Replacing a CM who has been in the position for nine and a half years, is a tough decision. Meanwhile, Congress leader and Punjab observer Ajay Maken has announced one of the key decision that was taken at CLP meeting. He said the Congress President was authorised to select the CLP leader and her decision would be acceptable to all.
As for seemingly all MLAs putting their weight behind Sidhu, Captain said it's he who sent the MLAs to the CLP meeting and usually, they go with what they think Delhi leadership. As to what would Captain next course of action will be known only a few days. "There are lots of people I know, all my supporters in people, Parliament and Assembly, I will take everyone into confidence and then only I can come up with an answer."
Is he moving close to the BJP? Or floating his own party? Responding to queries on his meetings with the PM and the Home Minister, Punjab CM said his being a border state, it is his duty to monitor the security of the state and those meetings were clearly from the point of view of national security.
Will the fight between Captain and Sidhu, benefit the Akalis or the AAP?
In politics, the old adage of 'rule and divide' holds eternally true. Be it the autocracies back in the history, or the governments of today. So does the fight between Sidhu and Captain, give a field day to the other players? But first, it all depends on who's the next CM of Punjab. The three-time MLA Sunil Jakhar, outgoing Cabinet Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, yet another senior Congress leader Partap Singh Bajwa, or last and not the very least Navjot Singh Sidhu.