New Delhi: Former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh is all set to take over as the next Punjab chief minister, and what better day for it than on 11 March, his 75th birthday. As the Congress surges ahead in the state crossing the half-way mark in the lead projections by the Election Commission, all eyes will now be on the Captain who is credited to have single-handedly with the win.
In Punjab, the only state, which Congress is leading in till now, the party is all set to return to power after a gap of one decade.
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While Punjab has been one of the party’s strongholds for years, its rout in the state in 2014 general elections, the Captain being the lone winner, had painted a grim picture for the party in the border state.
The party’s win in Punjab is even more significant because of two things—the party won on its own and in a three-cornered contest—both of which is rarely associated with the Congress in the past few years.
With the incumbent Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was facing a severe anti-incumbency, the Congress’s bigger challenge came from the new entrant —Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which did not perform as expected.
Interestingly, the SAD is giving a tough competition to the AAP for the opposition seat.
Party leaders feel that a win in Punjab will have an impact on the neighbouring states of Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi where all its incumbent state governments have been voted out of power in the last four years.
The next challenge for the Captain would be the cabinet formation particularly with the induction of senior and popular leaders like former BJP leader Navjot Singh Sidhu in the run-up to the polls as well as several rebels from the SAD who had contested the polls on a Congress ticket.
But before that happens, the New Moti Bagh Palace in Patiala – official residence of Captain – will on Saturday night see one of the biggest birthday bashes in its history