Two days after Congress General Secretary in-charge Asha Kumari expressed her reservations about Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s plan to sign strategist Prashant Kishor, the CM on Friday said 55 of 80 Congress MLAs were on board with getting Kishor to design party strategy for the 2022 Assembly election.
“Prashant ji has become very close to me. He is my friend, like my family. We have been in touch for last four years. We keep meeting again and again. We talked about elections also. I met him before Covid. I asked him if he is interested. He said ‘very interested’. Before asking him I asked my 80 MLAs, of which 55 said they want him. I then asked my party president Soniaji. She has left the decision to me,” Amarinder said while addressing the media through a video link on Friday.
A few days ago, Kishor’s team had told The Indian Express that he had not made up his mind to take up Punjab Congress. A day later, he went on record to say he had got calls from Punjab and Madhya Pradesh Congress but he had said no because he did not want to take up Congress in bits and pieces.
Kumari had called Kishor a “mercenary” for Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. She and PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar had even met the CM at the latter’s residence on Thursday and learnt to have expressed reservations that Congress in Punjab could do well without Kishor.
The CM said Kishor had denied to him that he was in talks with former Cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu to negotiate a deal with him to join Aam Aadmi Party. Responding to a question that Kejriwal, during an interview, had welcomed Sidhu on board AAP, Amarinder said, “You know what kind of a man Kejriwal is.”
Amarinder said Sidhu was very much a part of the Congress and he was “in touch with the senior leadership of the party in Delhi.”
He said he would contest the next Assembly election, but asked about the leadership role, said, “it will depend on the high command.’
The CM denied news reports about Kishor and Sidhu and said he also come to know about “these developments after reading newspapers in the morning. Sometimes I get to know from newspapers about what I said a day before,” he quipped.
In response to another question about Sidhu posting on his ‘Jittega Punjab’ YouTube channel that he had resigned because the government was not punishing the guilty in the Bargari sacrilege case, Amarinder said Sidhu or any other Congress member who had any concerns on any issue could come and talk to him. Investigations in the Bargari and other sacrilege cases were in progress but “we cannot just put people behind bars without following the due process of law”, he said.
“Many challans have been presented in the Bargari case, but the state government cannot interfere in the work of the courts, he added.
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