The fading patriarch: On Congress and Amarinder Singh

The Congress has set in motion a series of events in Punjab that it can no longer control

The BJP is a marginal player in Punjab, and the ongoing controversy over three farm laws has further alienated it from the entrenched farming communities in the State. The debate on the merits of the farm laws apart, the BJP also questioned the patriotism of the protestors. The party is now hoping for an outreach to the Sikh farmers through a partnership with the Captain. Whether it can offer any compromise that the farmers might find palatable remains to be seen. The Congress high command cannot absolve itself of the mess in the State. It decided to unsettle its own government for no apparent reason, and elevated a turncoat to lead its State unit. The party appointed a Dalit Sikh as Chief Minister in place of Mr. Singh, which is a bold experiment that is fraught with fresh problems. If it can mobilise public opinion in favour of its social justice politics, the Congress can remain in the reckoning. The Akali Dal, having parted with its long-term ally, the BJP, is now hoping to gain from the confusion arising out of the crisis in the Congress. The Congress has set in motion a series of events that it is no longer in control of. It also appears incapable of recalibrating its strategy for the State. With an untested Chief Minister and a conceited party chief in command, the party finds itself in an unenviable position in Punjab. The desertion by Mr. Singh makes its prospects considerably worse. While it might be too late to keep the former Chief Minister in the fold, the least the Congress high command can do is to strengthen the hands of Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and not give the impression that he is keeping the seat warm for the maverick Punjab unit chief of the party, Navjot Singh Sidhu.

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