Punjab Cong issue: Late night strategy meet by Rahul with Ambika, Venugopal

Punjab Cong issue: Late night strategy meet by Rahul with Ambika, Venugopal
(Photo: Qamar Sibtain/ IANS)

New Delhi, Sep 19 (IANS) After the exit of Amarinder Singh as the Punjab Chief Minister, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi held a meeting late in the night in which party leader Ambika Soni, General Secretary Organisation K.C. Venugopal were present. The meeting ended post midnight on Sunday.

Sources said discussion on a new chief minister was held and also strategy to pacify Amarinder Singh was discussed. Ambika Soni comes from Punjab and has been a senior leader. Sources also said she may be considered as the Chief Minister till elections are held. It is said that Soni shares a good rapport with Sonia Gandhi.

Former Punjab party President Sunil Jakhar is the frontrunner for the post of Chief Minister, sources said the party wants to project a non Sikh face ahead of the polls to counter the AAP which is gaining ground in the state.

Sources say that the party wants a Sikh, Navjot Singh Sidhu, as the state Congress chief and a non Sikh CM candidate combination in the polls. Other names doing the rounds include Pratap Singh Bajwa and Ludhiana MP Ravneet Singh Bittu.

The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting called here on Saturday to select the successor to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who resigned amid infighting in the party on Saturday afternoon, ended with the legislators unanimously passing a resolution authorising interim party President Sonia Gandhi to pick the new leader.

A total of 78 out of the 80 MLAs, barring Amarinder Singh and another member, authorised Sonia Gandhi to pick the new CLP leader, the party's state in-charge Harish Rawat told the media.

"Two resolutions -- one praising Amarinder Singh's contributions towards Punjab and another authorising President Sonia Gandhi to select the new CLP leader -- were unanimously passed," he said.

The party high command had deputed Ajay Maken and Harish Chowdhry as the central observers for the CLP meeting along with Rawat.