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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Channi called to Delhi again as Cong struggles to finalise Cabinet names

While Congress is yet to finalise the names of the Cabinet ministers, sources said Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief Navjot Singh Sidhu is also expected to reach Delhi to be a part of the discussions.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh |
Updated: September 25, 2021 4:47:47 pm
The move to call Charanjit Singh Channi to Delhi came after Rahul met former PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar for 45 minutes. (Express Photo: Kamleshwar Singh, File)

The Congress party seems to be struggling to get a fix on new Punjab CM’s team with sources pointing to differences between CM Charanjit Channi and PPCC chief Navjot Sidhu over selection of the new state Cabinet. On Friday, Channi was again called to Delhi by the Congress high command to discuss the new state Cabinet, just hours after he had returned from the national capital.

The party high command was busy revisiting the entire list in Delhi till the filing of this report. The list being relooked at is the one finalised Thursday.

It is the CM’s third visit to Delhi in the past a few days.

On Thursday, Channi had met AICC leader Rahul Gandhi in a meeting that ended at around 2 am on Friday morning. Channi had just reached Punjab in the morning when he was summoned again. Curiously, party high command has not called Sidhu for both these meetings.

Sources told The Indian Express that Sidhu and Channi were not agreeing on several MLAs to be inducted in the Cabinet. Differences have appeared between the duo on induction of Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, Pargat Singh and Kuljit Nagra.

While Sidhu is strongly supporting all three, Channi, it is learnt, is of the opinion that the organisation persons should concentrate of the party as elections are around the corner. Pargat Singh is PPCC general secretary and Nagra is working president.

Also, Sidhu is backing Raja Warring, but former Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal is strongly opposing him. Badal and Channi are considered thick for past many years. Badal had played a role in Channi’s rise as CM too.

Channi was called to Delhi on Thursday and had held two rounds of meetings, with senior leader KC Venugopal, general secretary incharge Harish Rawat, Harish Chaudhary and Ajay Maken and finally with Rahul Gandhi.

He was called again on Friday for the meeting after Rahul Gandhi met former PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar for about 45 minutes.

It is learnt that Jakhar too had a view on a few MLAs being inducted as ministers.

The party has been trying to impress upon Jakhar to accept a role in the Cabinet but he has been declining. Sources privy to the meeting said that Jakhar told Rahul that he did not want any position in the government.

Before this development, the Congress in Punjab was waiting for the list of Cabinet ministers as the CM is learnt to have conveyed to his colleagues that the list was finalised it would be run past AICC chief Sonia Gandhi for a final word.

While the party is retaining most of the ministers from Amarinder’s Cabinet, it has to induct only a few new ones. But it is unable to make a final decision on those few only.

The meeting between Channi and Rahul Gandhi was going on till the filing this report.

APPOINTMENT OF AG, DGP ALSO ON HOLD

Due to a tug of war between the Punjab leaders, Rahul Gandhi is learnt to have vetoed the move to appoint Deepinder Singh Patwalia as Advocate General. Sidhu was supporting Patwalia strongly.

A few party leaders from Punjab complained to Gandhi that Patwalia’s family had BJP leanings. Gandhi then asked Channi to appoint someone else, sources privy to development said. The government is now planning to appoint Anmol Rattan Singh Sidhu as next AG. The formal order is, however, awaited. Sidhu and former DGP Mohd Mustafa were backing Patwalia but the appointment could not come through.

There is no consensus on the issue of next DGP also. While Siddharth Chattopadhyay was tipped to be the next DGP on Thursday, there are no formal orders yet as several party leaders opposed his appointment.

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