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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Campaign Committee Meeting: Congress presents united face amid finger pointing, call to end nepotism

🔴 The coming together of the three Punjab Congress leaders held significance as Sunil Jakhar had refused to meet CM Charanjit Singh Channi at the former’s residence in Panchkula on Tuesday.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh |
Updated: December 16, 2021 9:18:51 am
navjot singh sidhu charanjit singh channi punjab news congressCM Charanjit Singh Channi, Navjot Singh Sidhu at the party headquarters attending the meeting chaired by campaign committee chief Sunil Jakhar. (Twitter/ @INCPunjab)

he Congress in Punjab Wednesday put up a united show as its top leaders, including Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and state party president Navjot Singh Sidhu, attended a meeting called by election campaign committee chief Sunil Kumar Jakhar.

The meeting, however, saw its fair share of sarcastic remarks and demands for coming clear of allegations of nepotism and it was decided that for now the party will design the campaign for 2022 around the collective leadership of Congress.

The coming together of the leaders assumes significance as Jakhar had on Tuesday refused to host Channi at his residence in Panchkula on Tuesday, stating that he would meet CM only at Congress Bhawan.

Earlier, it was felt that the campaign would be centred around Channi, who has has constantly been pitching himself as the real “aam aadmi (common man)” and talks bout the “Channi model” for the progress of the state. The Congress, which, by picking Channi gave Punjab its first Dalit CM, too had highlighting his rise from humble background as against the royal lineage of his predecessor Capt Amarinder Singh.

On the other hand, Sidhu has been talking about his 13-point agenda as his Punjab model.

On Wednesday, sources told The Indian Express that there was a consensus that the campaign should be around the collective leadership and not like the 2017 election when it was designed around the then PPCC chief and CM face Amarinder Singh.

While sources said it may be too early to say anything conclusively as the campaign committee would be meeting a number of times in the coming days, but “all agreed to the idea of having a united face of the party and the collective leadership to attract votes.”

The consensus for the day emerged after Jakhar is learnt to have posed a question on whether the campaign would be based on personality, ideology, vision, performance or the SC face.

“Jakhar said that he will design a campaign once he is clear if it is to be woven around a personality (Sidhu), an SC face (the CM), on ideology, or on performance. He said if they have to choose performance then they will have to be ready with answers about four and a half years of Amarinder’s rule. He suggested that they should build on whatever they have to showcase. He also said that credibility will make the Congress stand out,” a source said.

“To this, Sidhu took off and said with a hint of sarcasm that the campaign had already started. He said there are billboards on every bus and rooftops. Without naming the CM, he said the party can carry on with the campaign around personality if they think the face is credible enough,” said a source.

Sidhu was referring to Channi’s billboards across the state with a tagline “ghar ghar challi gall, Channi karda massle hall.”

Sources said that Sidhu first raised the issue when Channi had left the meeting for answering a phone. “Later, Sidhu repeated his remarks a number of times,” a source said.

Channi left the meeting after about 50 minutes. “The CM did not say anything else than that he would abide by the party decision. He said he he will follow party’s orders,” the source added.

During the meeting, Sidhu, without naming Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, sought removal of his son-in-law from the post of Additional Advocate General (AAG. “He did not name Randhawa, but said the son-in-law, who was made the AAG should be removed. He said even if though only a few weeks are left now (before polls are announced), but the party should appear to be taking a high moral ground. He also raised the issue of MLAs being appointed as chairpersons and also some relatives of minsters being given Cabinet ranks,” the source said.

Channi’s relative Mohinder Singh Kaypee was given Cabinet rank recently.

AICC secretary incharge Harish Chaudhary, who was also a part of the meting, is learnt to have said that the campaign would be around the collective leadership and the party had paid up for designing it around Amarinder last time. He said Congress always has designed its campaign around collective leaders.

A senior leader said that the meeting took place in very cordial environment. “There was a dialogue. All were talking and giving suggestions. We have come up till here and this means half the battle is won,” the leader said.
Another leader, however, said that it was a lacklustre meeting.

After the meeting, Sidhu said, “It was an important meeting, especially when Jakhar is a part of it. Unity means strength and division ends up in nemesis. The Congress has got strengthened after the appointment of Partap Bajwa and Sunil Jakhar in the election committees. Water flows much faster after the confluence of rivers. I had got the invite for the meeting. It is our responsibility to make the organisation stronger.”

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