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Congress rebellion anchored by Navjot Singh Sidhu, led by four ministers handpicked by Amarinder Singh

The four rebel ministers on August 25 had met party affairs in-charge Harish Rawat in Dehradun where they accused Amarinder of being in a clandestine truck with the opposition SAD.

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh |
Updated: September 19, 2021 1:12:53 pm
Police outside the Punjab Congress office before the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) meeting of the state Congress Legislative Party (CLP), in Chandigah, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021. (PTI Photo)

The Majha brigade of the Punjab Congress, which includes the trio of ministers Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, apart from Charanjit Singh Channi — all handpicked by Captain Amarinder Singh for his Cabinet — led the open revolt that ended in his resignation on Saturday.

The rebellion was anchored by state Congress president and Amritsar East MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu.

The four rebel ministers on August 25 had met party affairs in-charge Harish Rawat in Dehradun where they accused Amarinder of being in a clandestine truck with the opposition SAD. They alleged that Amarinder had failed to bring perpetrators of the sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib and those behind the death of two anti-sacrilege protestors to book, and blamed him for not honouring the pre-2017 poll promise of ending the drug menace in the state. The rebel Congress leaders said it would be difficult to go to the electorate ahead of the 2022 Vidhan Sabha elections in light of the Congress government not fulfilling the key promises. Here is a look at the leaders who led the revolt.

Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa: Legislator from Fatehgarh Churian constituency of Gurdaspur district, Bajwa was sworn in as minister and was given charge of rural development and panchayats, animal husbandry and fisheries, dairy development, and higher education. A four-time MLA, Bajwa with PPCC general secretary Pargat Singh was learnt to have led the signature campaign demanding from the party high command a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP). More than 40 MLAs had put their initials after which the party High Command called the CLP meeting on Saturday, ahead of which Amarinder resigned.

Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa: A three-time MLA and son of former state Congress chief Santokh Singh Randhawa, he represents Dera Baba Nanak Assembly constituency of Gurdaspur district, and was inducted into the Cabinet as Jails and Co-operatives minister in 2018, around a year after the formation of party government. Randhawa, in the recent past, remained very vocal against Amarinder saying that it would be difficult to contest the 2022 polls in light of pre-poll promises remaining unfulfilled. He had also said that Congress government itself was responsible for delay in justice in sacrilege cases.

Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria: Having secured his third consecutive win in Assembly polls, Sarkaria was inducted into the Punjab Cabinet during expansion in April 2018 and was named minister for Water Resources, Mines and Geology, Housing and Urban Development. Sarkaria was among Congress leaders who went to meet Rawat last month to express anguish over Amarinder’s work as chief minister. He represents the Raja Sansi constituency of Amritsar.

Charanjit Singh Channi: Also a third time legislator, Channi was the Leader of Opposition in Vidhan Vidhan during previous SAD-BJP regime. The Chamkaur Sahib MLA was inducted as the minister in in the first Cabinet and was allotted the portfolios of Technical Education and Industrial Training, Employment Generation and Training, and Tourism and Culture Affairs. He has been vocal against Amarinder for not paying attention to issues raised by party leaders and was among those who went to meet Rawat in Dehradun last month.

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