With the Congress firmly on the pole position in Punjab, the big questions on everyone's mind are if there will be a deputy chief minister and, if yes, who will be picked for the post.
Speculations are rife that Navjot Singh Sidhu, the Congress candidate from Amritsar East, may be chosen for the second-most important role in the state cabinet. Congress' chief ministerial candidate Captain Amarinder Singh too dodged the ball and said party vice-president Rahul Gandhi will decide on the deputy CM issue.
THE PATIALA CONNECTION
Cricketer-turned-politician Sidhu also appeared to be playing safe and called himself a "soldier of Rahul Gandhi's army".
If Sidhu does get the deputy chief minister's post, then both the chief minister and his deputy will share the same birthplace--Patiala. Amarinder Singh and Sidhu also share a common love--cricket.
However, more than the commonalities, it is reportedly the difference of opinion between the two that may give the party high command reasons to worry about.
While both Sidhu and Amarinder shared a common stage during the election campaign season, the undercurrents are clearly visible. Before Sidhu formally joined the Congress, talks of a seat-sharing deal between his Awaaz-e-Punjab and Congress were brutally quashed by a firm Amarinder who said "you cannot have a three-month-old party dictating terms to us".
BADALS MADE POLITICS A BUSINESS
Addressing reporters today, Sidhu launched a scathing attack on both the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Sidhu questioned the governance of the Parkash Singh Badal-led SAD-BJP government in the state, asking why the state was under a huge debt.
Sidhu said the Badals were defeated in the Punjab Assembly elections because they made politics a business. The Congress leader, who left the BJP alleging he was told to stay away from Punjab, said he never made politics a business and that is why "I am standing with my head held high".
"I will sacrifice myself for Punjab. I want to see Punjab prosper," Sidhu said on the back of reports that Congress is leading in 75 of the 117 Assembly seats, and is expected to cross the halfway mark. "This is the revival of the Congress," Sidhu told reporters.
Lauding Captain Amarinder Singh for the Congress' victory in the Punjab elections, Sidhu said the Congress government would work for the common people and would ensure that the state prospers. Crediting his wife and the Congress workers for his and the party's victory in the Punjab elections, he promised Sonia Gandhi that he would, with Captain Amarinder Singh, turn Punjab into a model state. He said, "I am a soldier of Rahul Gandhi's army."
BADALS ACCEPT DEFEAT
The man-of-the-moment Captain Amarinder Singh said Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will decide who becomes the deputy chief minister.
Amarinder Singh said his government's top priority would be to address the state's drug menace. Drugs (chitta) was the main poll plank for the Congress in the run up to the election.
Meanwhile, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, whose Shiromani Akali Dal has been dealt a crushing blow in the election, conceded defeat and said he would meet the Governor tomorrow and submit his resignation. "I thank people of Lambi for supporting me," said Badal, who is leading his constituency Lambi where he was challenged by Amarinder Singh.