"Punjab Chief Minister Must Be Sikh Leader": Ambika Soni Rejects Offer

Congress leader Ambika Soni declined the offer to become Punjab's next Chief Minister at a late-night meeting with her party colleague Rahul Gandhi, sources said

Congress leader Ambika Soni doesn't want to become Punjab's next Chief Minister, sources said

New Delhi:

Congress leader Ambika Soni has turned down an offer to become Punjab's next Chief Minister a day after Captain Amarinder Singh resigned. Ms Soni declined the offer at a late-night meeting with her party colleague Rahul Gandhi.

Ms Soni made it clear at the meeting that not having a Sikh as the Chief Minister has "ramifications".

"I am not going to Chandigarh.  The meeting is going on there with the general secretary and observers. They will decide and let the high command know. I have made my stand clear that for Punjab there has to be a Sikh face," Ms Soni told ANI.

The Congress's three political observers for Punjab are meeting with every MLA to get their views on the matter, and the three will report back to the party high command for a decision on who would be the next Chief Minister.

Many in the party are upset with the bad handling of the matter, sources said.

Mr Singh's resignation comes months before assembly elections are due in Punjab, and the new Chief Minister will have a lot of ground to cover once the leader takes charge.

"A meeting of MLAs was held with Harish Rawat and Ajay Maken yesterday. A resolution was passed that Sonia Gandhi's decision will be final on this matter. Today, you will get to know her decision," said Punjab Congress working president Pawan Goel.

Former Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar, party state chief Navjot Singh Sidhu and minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa are possible names for the top post. Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa and Congress MP Partap Singh Bajwa are reportedly also in running.

Amarinder Singh has ruled out accepting Navjot Sidhu as his successor and left the door open on leaving the Congress. "Navjot Singh Sidhu is an incompetent man. He was a total disaster in my government. He couldn't run one ministry I gave him. He did not clear files for seven months," the former Chief Minister, popularly known as Captain, told NDTV on Saturday.