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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Harish Rawat seeks to be relieved of Punjab Cong duties to ‘focus on Uttarakhand polls’

His request has come amid a full-blown crisis in Punjab Congress, with over two dozen MLAs and ministers seeking removal of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh |
Updated: August 27, 2021 5:42:45 am
MLAs backing Sidhu with Harish Rawat, Wednesday. Express photo

CONGRESS GENERAL secretary in-charge Harish Rawat has written to the party high command requesting that he be relieved of the responsibility of party affairs in Punjab, citing that elections in Uttarakhand are round the corner and he needed to concentrate on the same, sources said.

His request has come amid a full-blown crisis in Punjab Congress, with over two dozen MLAs and ministers seeking removal of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

On Thursday, Rawat reached New Delhi, where he is likely to discuss the rebellion with the party high command.

A source said, “He has been seeking to be relieved for a long time now as he has to concentrate on his election. He has now sent a renewed request. He has stated that he should be relieved as he has fulfilled his task of getting Navjot Sidhu back in the mainstream of the party.” 

Shortly before Rawat reached the national capital, a delegation of five rebel Punjab Congress leaders including four ministers and an MLA returned from there after a failed attempt to meet AICC chief Sonia Gandhi.

Sources said that four rebel ministers including Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Charanjeet Channi and PPCC general secretary in-charge Pargat Singh went to Delhi on Thursday. They were told that they would be given an appointment by Sonia Gandhi. 

“They, however, got a call from Gandhi’s office that she was not well. Hence, she would not be able to meet them. Except Channi, all came back to Chandigarh. Channi stayed back as he had to join the Cabinet meeting virtually.” 

Three rebel minister skip Cabinet meet, one attends, praises CM

Channi, it is learnt, showered praise on Amarinder at the meeting, saying that he had done commendable work on the issue of waiving loans of landless farmers, and providing jobs to unemployed youth. 

Local Bodies Minister Brahm Mohindra is learnt to have taken a dig at Channi during the Cabinet meeting, stating that he is sure that Channi was saying this from his heart as he was saying something else two days ago. Channi had stated on Tuesday that Congress leaders had lost confidence in the CM. Mohindra, a source said, had also asked Channi to go and sing praises for Amarinder in public instead of just saying it in the Cabinet. 

A statement by the chief minister’s office after the Cabinet meeting also stated that “Channi appreciated the decision on waiver of loans upto Rs 50,000 each, of the loaness of the Punjab Scheduled Castes Land Development and Finance Corporation (PSCFC) and Punjab Backward Classes Land Development and Finance Corporation (BACKFINCO). He also appreciated recent loan waiver of landless farmers and farm labourers.”

A delegation of seven including these four ministers had met Rawat in Dehradun on Thursday, and had claimed they had a very “fruitful” meeting with him. 

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