Uncertainty lies ahead for the state of Punjab as sitting Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has stepped down from his post. On Saturday, the party high command asked the incumbent to resign. This move has come just a few months prior to the upcoming state elections.
For the past four years, Congress has been in power in Punjab with Captain Amarinder Singh as the face of the administration. Singh was currently in the middle of his second chief ministerial term, which began in 2017. Before this, he led the state from 2002 to 2007. With 117 seats in the state assembly, INC had captured 77 seats in the 2017 elections, gaining a majority.
What brought on this resignation?
The main reason put forward has been the inability of the government to fulfil its electoral manifesto promises. During their campaign, one of their primary promises had been to work against the infestation of drugs, sacrilege and the Bandals. However, Singh’s government has largely been inactive on that front. The administration’s take on the entire issue was soft once the party came to power. Even after a cabinet reshuffle, the past four years have led to no concrete steps.
Singh has also been perceived negatively for the outsourcing of his bureaucrats and the aura of inaccessibility created around him, which has continued from his previous tenure. All of this has resulted in waning poll numbers. This has also become a cause for concern for Congress that his “bad” leadership would lead them to lose the upcoming elections. Led by Navjot Singh Sidhu, a rebellion was thus propagated by the PCC and the result was the forced resignation of Amarinder Singh. About fifty Punjab leaders petitioned Sonia Gandhi, demanding the replacement for Singh.
The ex-CM had this say about his party and their decision:
I was humiliated three times by the Congress leadership in the past two months…they called the MLAs to Delhi twice and now convened CLP in Chandigarh today (Saturday). Apparently, they (Congress high command) do not have confidence in me and did not think I could handle my job. But I felt humiliated at the manner in which they handled the whole affair. Let them appoint who they trust.”
The Future of Punjab Leadership
Singh has made it clear that he still envisions a place for himself in politics and governance. And his support comes from the people:
There is always an option, and I will use that option when the time comes – at the moment I am still in Congress.
However, the ex-CM has shown explicit disdain for Sidhu replacing him at his post. However, according to an article published by the Indian Express, there are currently four probable candidates for CM. They are Navjot Singh Sidhu, Sunil Jakhar, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, and Partap Singh Bajwa.
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