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Thursday, October 21, 2021

February polls will decide if Cong’s Punjab gambit was shrewd | India News


NEW DELHI: The midnight coup that nudged Congress satrap Amarinder Singh out of the Punjab chief minister’s office is a gamble which would be tested in the February assembly elections and decide the smartness or otherwise of the radical and surgical move.
The descent of Punjab Congress in less than a year from seeing the assembly polls as an apparently one-way affair to a picture of trepidation among legislators about their prospects had the towering figure of Amarinder Singh at its core. The humiliation of Akali Dal in 2017 ensured the regional party struggled with regaining its credibility, given a debilitating blow by Singh’s campaign, while the protests over the three new farm laws raised the prospect of a friendly field.
But strangely, the favourable atmosphere of not so long ago gave way to a palpable sense of fear among MLAs who began complaining that the ground situation is challenging for the party as they chose to lay the blame at the doorsteps of Singh’s administration. The sacrilege case – that was latched on to by the ambitious and maverick Navjot Sidhu – triggered a chain of events which propelled the former cricketer to the state president’s post.
Sidhu’s shrewd decision to use the powerful perch to amplify grievances of MLAs with incessant targeting of bete noire Singh, which reeked of reverse vendetta, ended with the change of the CM. Now, it is for Punjab Congress led by Sidhu to prove that the rocking of the ship was a smart move to douse the percieved popular anger against Singh.
The anti-Singh campaign has been driven by the claim that Aam Aadmi Party was gaining ground in Punjab and has even surpassed Congress in popular perception. Singh’s camp consistently rubbished the assessment while calling it a devious plan to scuttle him.
Much would now also depend on the next step that Singh takes in the coming days. If he reconciles to the new reality and accepts an advisory position in the party, it would be a relief for Congress. But if he either breaks away, or uses his new-found freedom to undercut Congress, the party may have a serious challenge at hand.
The unknowns leave no exit route for Sidhu and the Congress leadership in case of a failure in future.





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