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Navjot Singh Sidhu enlists new advisers, his camp stirs up talk of MLAs meet to replace Capt

Meanwhile late on Tuesday evening, Navjot Sidhu and his supporters met at Cabinet minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa’s residence with about 15 MLAs and ministers and decided that the PPCC chief should call a meeting of MLAs to chalk out a strategy for 2022 Assembly elections.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh |
August 12, 2021 12:46:26 am
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Navjot Singh Sidhu (File)

A day after CM Amarinder Singh met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in Delhi, political temperature rose a few notches in Punjab with PPCC chief Navjot Sidhu appointing four new advisers and his camp deciding that a meeting of party MLAs will be called soon to pass a resolution seeking the CM’s replacement.

As the day ended, one out of the four advisers appointed by Sidhu — former DGP Mohd Mustafa – turned down the offer saying he was not cut out for the job. But the very act of appointing advisers riled many in the state Congress as they questioned the need to do so after having four working presidents. Several leaders said that “there was no need to run the party like a corporate house”.

Meanwhile late on Tuesday evening, Sidhu and his supporters met at Cabinet minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa’s residence with about 15 MLAs and ministers and decided that the PPCC chief should call a meeting of MLAs to chalk out a strategy for 2022 Assembly elections.

“It was decided that while discussing the 2022 elections, we will bring up a latent agenda that a resolution should be passed seeking removal of the Chief Minister as majority of the party leaders were not with him anymore. Let us see when Sidhu would call a MLAs meet now,” said a source privy to the discussions.

Those present in the meeting included Charanjeet Singh Channi, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Kuljit Nagra, Sangat Singh Gilzian, Barindermeet Pahda, Kulbir Zira, Kushaldeep Singh Kiki and Sangat Singh Gilzian.

While most leaders who were present were not willing to come on record about the meeting and denied that any such discussion had taken place, a leader who attended the discussions said that the MLAs have been demanding that there should be a meeting.

“We are demanding that there should be an open discussion about what should we tell people. We have to give people the answers. There are many unfulfilled promises. We need to ask them about what should we tell people about the issues of power, transport. We have been suggesting that we should get together and have an open discussion. People are going to take us to a task in the elections. Also, questioning our government is our right. Ultimately, we are answerable to the people.”

A day prior to CM’s meeting with the Congress chief, five leaders had written to Sonia Gandhi stating that the government was not fulfilling the 18-point agenda. And while Amarinder is yet to return from Delhi – likely on Thursday, the Sidhu camp is keeping up the pressure.

The four advisers that Sidhu appointed included party MP Dr Amar Singh, Dr Pyare Lal Garg, Malwinder Singh Mali and former DGP Mohd Mustafa. Mustafa, however, declined the offer within hours.

The former DGP was considered very close to Amarinder till the appointment of Dinkar Gupta as DGP. Dr Amar Singh was earlier adviser to Sidhu when he was a Cabinet minister. Sidhu had later removed him.

Several party leaders have been supporting Sidhu and many of them have not taken the decision kindly. “Let the decision sink in. We will see what has to be done,” said a leader close to Sidhu.

Amid all this, CM’s camp was abuzz with talk that Amarinder had forcefully raised issues related to Sidhu in the meeting with Sonia Gandhi stating that he was bashing his own government and this was diluting the chances of the Congress party for a repeat.

“The CM has told his camp that Sonia Gandhi told him that he would continue be the CM and he should ensure party’s victory. The CM told Sonia that Sidhu was bashing the government and this would affect party’s prospects. To this, Sonia asked Harish Rawat in the meeting about what was going on in Punjab. She then asked him to go to Punjab and sort this issue. The Congress should be like one cohesive unit and not fractured unit,” said a source from CM’s camp.

Rawat is expected to visit Punjab in a few days.

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