AICC GENERAL secretary and Punjab Congress Affairs in-charge Harish Rawat’s first visit to Punjab was marred by a divided Congress house as former Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, Rajya Sabha members Partap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dullo, MP Manish Tewari stayed away from the party’s dharna against farm legislations at Khatkar Kalan village in Nawanshahar on Monday.
The PPCC, it is learnt, had invited all legislators, MPs and MLAs to attend the dharna. But these leaders, already airing rebellious voices, were conspicuous by their absence.
Rawat was visiting the state for the first time ever since he was appointed party affairs in-charge. He had already met Bajwa and Dullo besides other party MPs, CM and Jakhar in Delhi.
When Rawat and Amarinder were addressing a press conference in Chandigarh, Sidhu was speaking at his native Manwala village, Sangrur. While speaking, he indicated that he did not need any ladder but would like to succeed on his own.
Bajwa and Dullo visited the Golden Temple in Amritsar and released a statement criticising the Centre and the farm legislations.
Manish Tewari, Anandpur Sahib MP, who was among the 23 leaders who wrote to AICC interim president Sonia Gandhi seeking changes in the party, too did not turn up. He tweeted: “Was to participate in dharna against Farm Bills at Khatkar Kalan. Unfortunately one of my legal juniors tested positive yesterday evening. Erring on the side of caution as a responsible citizen, I decided to recuse myself.” He also wrote that he had informed Amarinder, Rawat and the Congress leadership.
Rawat is already facing a challenge bringing all party leaders on the same page in Punjab. The Congress is a divided house with Sidhu staying away from party programs, Dullo and Bajwa openly criticising the government. With these leaders boycotting his first function in the state, it remains to be seen how he manages to silence the dissenting voices.
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