Senior Punjab Congress leader Sunil Jakhar has claimed that 42 MLAs wanted him to be the chief minister of the state after the unceremonious exit of Amarinder Singh last year.
Jakhar's nephew Sandeep Jakhar is contesting the Punjab assembly polls as a Congress candidate from the Abohar seat. Sunil Jakhar was among the front runners for the chief ministerial post. But the party preferred Charanjit Singh Channi, who became the first chief minister of Punjab from the Scheduled Caste community.
“Forty-two votes went for Sunil (Jakhar), 16 for Sukhjinder Randhawa, 12 votes for Maharani Preneet Kaur (Amarinder Singh's wife and Patiala MP), six votes for Navjot Singh Sidhu and two votes for (Charanjit Singh) Channi,” Jakhar said.
He also said he even declined the post of deputy chief minister offered by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to him. “Forty-two MLAs voted for me despite the fact that I was nothing at that time. I was not even PPCC president,” Jakhar said, pointing out that the party had sought to know from the MLAs whom they wanted to be the chief minister after the exit of Amarinder Singh.
“Seventy-nine MLAs were called up to know whom they wanted to be the CM. Sunil was not even an MLA,” he added. Amarinder Singh was made to resign as the chief minister by the Congress amid a bitter power tussle with Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu.
The chances of Jakhar becoming the chief minister were scuttled after the statement of senior Congress leader Ambika Soni who had said the party should go with a Sikh face. Charanjit Singh Channi, who replaced Amarinder Singh last year, is the first chief minister of Punjab from the Scheduled Caste community.
On January 27, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi had announced at a virtual rally that the party would go with a chief ministerial face in the Punjab elections. Over the past several weeks, Channi and state Congress chief Sidhu have, directly or indirectly, made a case for themselves to be declared as the party's chief ministerial candidate.
With inputs from PTI.