There are indications that the Congress may have to pay a heavy price for Rahul Gandhi’s over-reliance on Navjot Singh Sidhu and Harish Rawat in Punjab and Uttarakhand.
The first list of Congress candidates for the Punjab Assembly elections suggests that Sidhu is dominating the ticket allocation exercise, while Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi is not that effective. Surprisingly, Channi could not manage a ticket for his brother Manohar Singh. The message is loud and clear that Channi is not being given importance in the process of candidate selection. Another message is that Channi’s CM job is not safe if the party comes to power again.
Analysts believe that the Congress may lose a good chunk of Dalit votes if this message goes out, as Channi belongs to this community whose presence is quite significant in Punjab. As a result of being denied a ticket, Manohar Singh is ready to contest as an independent candidate.
After the first list came out, it was clear that Rahul was relying too much on Sidhu. Channi’s brother was denied a ticket citing the reason that only one ticket would be given to one family. But this formula cannot be applied in Uttarakhand. Congress will have to give tickets to Yashpal Arya and his son. Arya came to Congress leaving the BJP. At the same time, Harish Rawat is also making efforts to settle his son and daughter in politics.
So, Sidhu and Rawat are dominant in Punjab and Uttarakhand, respectively. Both are eyeing CM posts as well. Both of them are taking their opponents head on to consolidate their positions.
All the Congress heavyweights had left the party and joined BJP during the last Assembly elections because of Rawat’s “unacceptable” politics. This time round, Rawat has spoiled their plan to return to Congress. A couple of leaders like Kishore Upadhyaya and Arya in the Congress have been sidelined. Harish Rawat is the only leader who is visible in the Congress in Uttarakhand. Rawat is not apparently able to challenge the BJP which is strong in all respect. Rahul Gandhi could not also address the issues that the party has been facing in the hill state.
Similarly, Congress seems to be losing its grip over Punjab due to Rahul’s over-dependence on Sidhu. Congress’ Dalit card politics is also losing the steam with growing dissidence after ticket distribution. The opposition will try to benefit from any rift in Channi’s family over ticket allocation. CM’s cousin Jasvinder Singh has already joined BJP.
Former Chief minister Amarinder Singh is already eagerly waiting to welcome Congress rebels. Meanwhile, the BJP wants a hung house in Punjab so as to keep Congress out of power.