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Monday, June 21, 2021

Punjab Cong crisis: High command steps in, sets up committee

Party chief Sonia Gandhi Friday set up a committee headed by veteran leader Mallikarjun Kharge to talk to legislators and senior leaders, even as Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu showed no inclination for a rapprochement.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh |
Updated: May 29, 2021 5:04:13 am
Amarinder Singh, Navjot Singh Sidhu

THE FIRST meeting of the three-member committee constituted to look into the ongoing feud in its Punjab unit will be held Saturday.

AICC general secretary and party affairs in-charge Harish Rawat on Friday said Sunil Jakhar will continue as PPCC chief for now and no other change in the government was on the cards.

Talking to The Indian Express, Rawat, who reached Delhi to attend the meeting, said that all differences will be ironed out in the days to come.

AICC interim president Sonia Gandhi had constituted the committee, led by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, and former Delhi MP J P Agarwal and Rawat as members.

“We will be meeting on Saturday and will find a way forward. In the coming days, we will be meeting the CM, PPCC chief, MPs and MLAs and ensure that we put up a united front in the 2022 Assembly elections and emerge victorious,” Rawat said.

On speculation that there could be changes in the unit and at the government level, Rawat said, “Abhi aisa kuch nahi hai (There is nothing of the sort as of now). Sunil Jakhar is the PPCC chief. We will talk to everyone, take feedback and work out a way that everybody works together for the victory of the party.”

While Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had previously said that party leader Navjot Singh Sidhu was keen on being PPCC chief or deputy CM, the latter had categorically stated that he had never sought any Cabinet berth or party position.

Rawat said he hoped that with senior people like “Kharge Sahib” made to head the committee, party leaders will listen to it and air their grievances at the party forum and not in public.

The committee was constituted after a banner of revolt raised by a few Congress leaders in the state after the Punjab government was accused of botching up the investigation into the sacrilege and firing cases. The High Court had set aside the investigations by Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the government.

Asked to comment on the Sidhu-Capt spat, Rawat said, “I hope everyone will listen to the committee. We are a democratic organisation. People have differences. But I am sure everything will be settled.”

On why the rift had not been sorted yet, he said, “It is my mistake. I was down with Covid, was in ICU for many days. It took me long to recover. Now we are holding a meeting and everything will be in place.”

He added that the committee will decide on how to go about the meetings with the party leaders: “We will meet them physically.”

“We are going to convey a message that everybody should exercise restraint and be patient. This is how parties function. We will not let them fight. Everything will be resolved,” he added.

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