The Congress on Saturday announced its new PCC chief, appointing Amarinder Singh Raja Warring as the successor to Navjot Singh Sidhu, even as Qadian MLA Partap Singh Bajwa was appointed leader of Congress Legislature Party (CLP) in the Punjab Assembly.
Sidhu had tendered his resignation from the post after the party’s debacle in the recent state elections as per the directives of party president Sonia Gandhi.
By appointing 44-year-old former Indian Youth Congress and Gidderbaha MLA Warring as the PPCC chief, the Congress high command seems to have given preference to a young face and positioned a seasoned leader and a former MP as CLP leader to take on the Bhagwant Mann-led AAP government.
Sonia Gandhi issued the list of new appointments, which insiders say seems to have a clear “stamp” of Rahul Gandhi. Former state minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu has been appointed Punjab Congress Working President and Chabbewal MLA Raj Kumar Chabbewal will be the deputy CLP leader.
Ashu began his political career as a Congress councillor from Ludhiana in 1997, and later went on to become three-time councillor and two-time MLA. He belongs to a business family that owns dairy farms.
Warring, who represents Gidderbaha in the state assembly, was reportedly handpicked by Rahul Gandhi to lead the Indian Youth Congress during his earlier years in the party. He will face a stiff challenge to manage the affairs of a state unit which has been riddled with factionalism and drubbing by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Though he seems to enjoy the support of Sidhu, he will need to take all factions along to take party out of the crisis.
Bajwa, a former Rajya Sabha MP, was also Gandhi’s pick for the Upper House. Though he never openly criticised the party high command, he constantly pointed fingers at the state leadership.
Chabbewal is a senior Scheduled Caste leader in Punjab. The party has struck the delicate balance between communities representing all major groups of the state with the latest rejig.