Captain Amarinder Singh back as Punjab Congress chief

New Delhi: Keeping the 2017 Punjab assembly polls in mind, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday appointed former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh as the state party chief.

Amarinder's comeback is likely to give a fresh impetus to the beleaguered and faction-ridden Congress in Punjab.

"Consequent upon the resignation of Partap Singh Bajwa from the presidentship of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Sonia Gandhi has appointed Amarinder Singh (the new) president with immediate effect," a Congress press release said here.

The Congress also announced the re-appointment of senior state party leader Sunil Jakhar as the Congress Legislature Party leader in the Punjab assembly.

Both Bajwa and Jakhar had submitted their resignations on Thursday. Their resignations came days after party vice president Rahul Gandhi visited Punjab amid factionalism in the state unit.

The Congress also announced former union minister Ambika Soni as chairperson of the campaign committee for the assembly polls.

Congress' Nabha legislator Sadhu Singh Dharamsot will be its vice chairman and Ravneet Singh Bittu, the MP from Ludhiana, its convener.

"Further appointments will be made shortly," it added.

Amarinder Singh, the Lok Sabha member from Amritsar, is at present the Congress deputy leader in the Lok Sabha.

He had resigned as the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president after the Congress was defeated in the 2012 Punjab assembly elections.

Reacting to Amarinder's appointment, his bete noire and Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Friday said the ruling Shiromani Akal Dal (SAD) was "least bothered about Amarinder Singh or any other person taking over the command of the Congress".

Badal told the media in Khadoor Sahib that the leadership change was an "internal matter of the Congress".

"For us, all (state) Congress presidents are alike, so we are least concerned about it," Badal quipped, adding that Amarinder had been the Punjab Congress chief twice earlier and the Punjab chief minister once when the Congress lost the assembly polls.

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