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Stoic silence on Captain's CM nomination causes unease in Congress's Punjab camp

Even as Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders continue their tirade against Congress Chief Captain Amarinder Singh over his name not being as the Chief Ministerial candidate till date, the stoic silence of Congress top leadership on the issue has raised questions.

Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), President, Captain Amarinder Singh has been spearheading the party’s campaign in the state, travelling to constituencies with campaigns like ‘Coffee with Captain’ or ‘Har ghar to ek Captain’ (One captain from every house) that project him as the party face.

Though he had been unofficially declared as CM candidate by party workers who have been seeking votes on his name, with slogans like ‘Chahunda hai Punjab, Captain di sarkar’, the dilly-dallying by Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi in giving final nod has begun to cause unease in the Congress camp.

Gandhi has been maintaining silence on the issue in his previous visits to the state, when party members expected him to make the announcement. Many believe that the former CM has been apparently snubbed by Gandhi over his earlier remarks against him, but the move could also be aimed at keeping warring factions at bay within the party.

“People are waiting for him to be announced as the CM face. Atleast 5 per cent Jatt-Sikh votes from rural areas would move from SAD to Congress once the announcement is made. But, there has been an unnecessary delay.

The party has no other face. Sikh Chehra to yehi hai. The campaign is now more about Captain than Congress,” said Amarjit Singh Tikka, General Secretary, PPCC.

The party workers believe that the party is set to gain with the announcement as it would clear the mind of the electorate and give an edge over AAP which is yet to declare the CM candidate. It will also put an end to the constant mocking by AAP leaders, including National Convener, AAP Arvind Kejriwal who took potshots at Captain hinting that his party is not keen to project him as CM candidate.

However, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), Vice-President, Sunil Jakhar said Captain Amarinder’s CM nomination was a ‘writing on the wall’ and people should not read too much into the delay.

“All the campaigns designed so far by Congress strategist have projected Captain Amarinder as the CM candidate, be it Coffee with Captain or Captain Smart Connect scheme. They have been made after the approval of the Congress High Command. So, it is just a matter of time that the announcement will be made,” he told DNA.

When asked if the delay could also be due to the final word on joining of Cricketer-turned politician Navjot Singh Siddhu who is holding direct talks with Congress Vice-President, Jakhar said, “No. Captain (Amarinder) is our final weapon, Siddhu could be second. The announcement will be made when Gandhi visits Punjab next.”