Chandigarh: Rahul Gandhi began the Congress’ Punjab election campaign Thursday, but was put on notice by Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu over the party’s CM candidate for the 20 February polls.
Kicking off the campaign after offering prayers at the Golden Temple, Rahul Gandhi said the party will announce the CM candidate based on the decision taken by workers.
“Normally we do not do this, but if Punjab wants, the party wants and our workers want, we will give Punjab a chief minister face. Once the name is announced, we will work as a team,” he said.
The party, which rules Punjab, had earlier said the decision would be taken only after the 14 February election in Goa.
“Both Channi and Sidhu have told me that the one big question that the people of Punjab are asking is who will lead the state. Since only one person can lead, the other person has sworn that he will with all his heart work for the other person and the party to ensure his victory. I am very happy to hear that,” said Gandhi.
Earlier, while addressing the rally, both Channi and Sidhu asked Rahul Gandhi to declare the party’s chief ministerial candidate.
Punjab goes to the polls on 20 February and the Congress has declared 109 of the 117 candidates for the polls.
‘Congress has filled my small cup to the brim’
In the virtual rally led by Rahul Gandhi, who shared the stage with around 50 Congress candidates, Channi said Sidhu was like his elder brother. “Anyone that the Congress high command chooses is acceptable to me. I would take the lead in campaigning for that person,” the chief minister said.
Channi added that “outsiders like Kejriwal” were spreading canards that there was infighting within the Congress party.
“The party has already filled my small cup to the brim,” said Channi referring to his having been made the first Dalit CM of Punjab. Channi said that only Rahul Gandhi’s visionary thinking and courage had led to that decision.
“I am from a poor family and did not have any political background. And yet, I was chosen for such a big responsibility for which I am grateful. I have been given enough. I do not want any positions. We are all together and for the sake of Punjab and for the sake of the party I am ready to sacrifice anything,” said Channi.
Sidhu spoke before Channi, and said Punjab voters wanted to know who was going to be the chief minister face and the decision would change the course of Punjab’s destiny. “Take one week or 10 days but please take the people of Punjab out of this uncertainty and tell who the chief minister candidate will be,” the former cricketer said.
Punjab votes next month with four other states and the results will be declared on 10 March.
(Edited by Manoj Ramachandran)