Congress MLAs back Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa as next Punjab chief minister, say reports

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All the Congress MLAs have proposed that Punjab cabinet minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa be made the next chief minister of the state, sources told ANI. However, no decision has been taken yet as a discussion is ongoing at the New Delhi residence of Rahul Gandhi with Ambika Soni present at the meet, ANI further said.

As per Moneycontrol, Congress MLA Pritam Kotbhai confirmed to reporters in Chandigarh that all legislators of the party have backed Randhawa's name for the next chief minister.

Another Congress leader Kaka Randeep Singh came to pay Randhawa a visit but he remained elusive when asked to comment on such media reports. "I have come to meet him (Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa), official information (on CM's name) will be announced by people who have come from Delhi through a presser," he said.

Randhawa was a member of the outgoing cabinet headed by Amarinder Singh. The 62-year-old was heading the ministries of jails and cooperation. Randhawa earlier told News18 that he was not greedy for any posts and that the final decision will lie with Congress high command.

When the media persons had asked that can it be assumed that they were talking to the future chief minister, Randhawa quipped, " You are talking to a Congressman". In a veiled dig at Amarinder Singh, he then added, "A chief minister remains (in his post) only till the time when his party, people of the state stand by him".

"Not mine, don't know who's but it will be done for sure," Randhawa told news agency ANI, on being asked whether he will be taking oath as the Punjab chief minister today.

Asked how soon can one expect the name of the new CLP leader to be announced, Randhawa said, "We have authorised Congress president in this regard." He said the party senior leadership has not only to talk to the MLAs, but other stalwarts too before finalizing the name.

Asked why so much time is being taken to announce the CLP leader, he said, "If you have to make a village sarpanch, sometimes it takes 20 days to decide". However, he assured the new CLP leader's name will be announced later in the day.

On Amarinder saying he felt humiliated, Randhawa replied, "So far, the BJP has changed five chief ministers. And in the Congress too, some chief ministers have been changed. In Congress, Amarinder Singh has a maximum tenure of nine-and-half years as chief minister. The honour he got, I think no other chief minister got so much."

To a question over what caused differences with Amarinder, he said, "When we felt that promises which were made€¦ and elections were near and the Congress high-command and we too felt worried".

Randhawa had earlier this year joined hands with Navjot Singh Sidhu, and had targeted his own government over alleged failure to fulfil the promises made in the run-up to the 2017 polls including those related to the sacrilege incidents (in 2015). On Amarinder'd outbursts against Sidhu after he resigned as chief minister, Randhawa termed it as "unfortunate" that a senior leader had used such words.

"I think it is unfortunate that such words have been used against Punjab Congress chief by a senior leader," he said. "Even when there were differences with Amarinder Singh since April 26, but you must have never heard me speak any word against him in a disrespectful manner," said Randhawa. "Even today, I consider him like a father," said the Jails and Cooperation minister in the outgoing cabinet.

"...Till the time we (Amarinder Singh and Randhawa) were together, you saw that I was very close to him. When he hurt me, then I followed my conscience," Randhawa said.

As per NDTV, Soni was apparently asked to take over the job but she denied stating that only a person from the Sikh community should head the state government. "I've declined the offer (to be the next Punjab CM). Party's exercise is going on in Chandigarh with the general secretary and observers are taking views of all MLAs. I believe Punjab CM face should be a Sikh," Soni told ANI.

The names of former Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar, current state unit president Navjot Singh Sidhu, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa were also doing the rounds for the top post in Punjab.

This development comes on the heels of a meeting of the Punjab Congress Legislative Party on Sunday, a day after Congress veteran Captain Amarinder Singh resigned as chief minister of Punjab with less than five months to go for the Assembly polls after a bruising power struggle with state party chief Navjot Singh Sidhu and had said that he felt "humiliated" over the way the party handled the protracted crisis.

The 79-year-old Amarinder, one of the Congress' powerful regional satraps, had put in his papers after speaking to the Congress president and shortly before a crucial meeting of the CLP here on Saturday evening. He had later launched a no-holds-barred attack against Sidhu, describing his bete noire, a cricketer-turned-politician, as a "total disaster".

With inputs from agencies

Also See: Hours before resigning, Amarinder Singh expressed anguish in letter to Sonia Gandhi

From Sunil Jakhar to Navjot Singh Sidhu, probable faces for Punjab CM post after Amarinder's exit

Charanjit Singh Channi will be next chief minister of Punjab, announces Congress

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