A DAY after reaching out to MLAs and former ministers considered close to ex-Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh, who is all set to launch his own party, AICC leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday met Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and asked Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi to meet him Thursday.
Even as the party, according to sources, prevented four ex-ministers from joining Amarinder, who was not accompanied by any political leader during his press conference Wednesday, there is another problem brewing with Navjot Singh Sidhu, who is learnt to be adamant on getting Advocate General A P S Deol replaced. An emissary of the high command was sent to Sidhu at his Patiala residence on Wednesday to ask him to start campaigning for the party.
Sidhu, it is learnt, has refused to budge from his stand, a day after he raised the issue of sacrilege at Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s meeting with various Pradesh Congress Committees in Delhi on Tuesday. He is staying put at his Patiala residence and not going to PPCC headquarters. Nor is he moving out in the state.
Channi, meanwhile, has already reached Delhi. Sources said Amarinder’s upcoming political outfit would be the point of Rahul’s discussion with Channi. Randhawa met Rahul in the morning, skipping the Cabinet meeting in Ludhiana. He is learnt to have discussed several issues including Aroosa Alam.
Punjab Congress affairs in-charge Harish Chaudhary had gotten active on Tuesday morning, soon after Amarinder’s media advisor invited journalists for his presser. Chaudhary called up these four ex-ministers — Rana Gurmit Sodhi, Balbir Sidhu, Sadhu Singh Dharamsot and Sunder Sham Arora — and organised their meetings with Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday itself.
A source said that with Sidhu being adamant on AG, the party high command has left the decision on replacement of AG to Channi: “It is CM’s prerogative. The matter has been left to him. But I am not saying that he cannot be replaced. Let us see how things roll out in the coming days.”
Sidhu had been demanding replacement of AG on the plea that he was the defence lawyer of former DGP Sumedh Singh Saini. A source said, “Sidhu is of the opinion that if the party does not honour his opinion on the AG, then there was no point for him to continue as PPCC chief.” Sidhu has not withdrawn his resignation yet.
Sources said that while the party prevented a situation by stopping four MLAs to join Amarinder, it is trying to prevent another situation that could be created by Sidhu.
“The party is of the opinion that while the leadership is firefighting ahead of Amarinder launching his party, Sidhu may not create another situation for him. It appears to be a matter of who blinks first in case of Sidhu and the party,” said a source.
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