Even as the three-member committee set up by Congress president to look into the Punjab infighting, a senior MLA from the party raised the demand for a Dalit Chief Minister candidate for the forthcoming state assembly polls.
Amritsar MLA Rajkumar Verka who is among the 25 odd MLAs meeting the committee on Monday said that he will pitch for a Dalit CM face for the polls. “The state has 36 percent Dalit population, which is a big chunk. So, it will be appropriate to seek someone from the community to lead the campaign as CM.” Verka told News18.com.
A strong leader from Majha region, Verka, however, claimed that his representation should not be construed as raising a banner of revolt against Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh. “The committee is seeking suggestions from party leaders, I will put forth my own suggestion. This will not mean that I am against Capt,” said Verka, who is considered to be part of the Capt Amarinder lobby.
Sources within the party pointed out that the statement suggested a deepening crisis within the state unit. Insiders said that Verka’s demand was indicative of multiple groupings that have emerged in the party ever since the High Court judgement on the Kotkapura firing case that virtually absolved Badals of any wrongdoings.
Party leader said that Verka could be wary of the other senior leaders like cabinet minister and Dalit leader Charanjit Singh Channi siding with the Navjot Singh Sidhu camp seeking a change of leadership in the state. “It seems all about power. Channi has been organising meetings of MLAs and MPs on the Kotkapura issue against the CM. So, there are concerns with another Dalit leader camp that he would assume centre stage. Hence, to extract his pound of flesh, Verka is jumping into the fray with his set of demands,” commented a leader.
The committee set up by the Congress president will be meeting 25 MLAs as they kick off their attempts to bring a truce within the state unit head of elections. But with serious differences between groups close to Capt Amarinder and Navjot Singh Sidhu emerging the committee will have its task cut out. The committee is also expected to meet both Capt Amarinder and Sidhu as well.