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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Punjab Congress infighting: Kharge panel submits report to Sonia Gandhi, bats for accommodating all sections

Some party leaders had expressed reservations against Congress govt in state.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh |
Updated: June 11, 2021 2:06:43 pm
The top leadership of the party may also call Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and former Cabinet minister Navjot Sidhu to Delhi for separate discussions. (File photo)

With the three-member committee on the infighting within the Punjab Congress submitting its report Thursday, all eyes are on what party president Sonia Gandhi does. Sources said she is likely to meet the committee members Friday, followed by talks with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his prime detractor Navjot Singh Sidhu in person.

Led by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, the committee included senior leader J P Aggarwal and general secretary in-charge of Punjab Harish Rawat. Its report, prepared after extensive talks over five days with at least 150 party leaders, is yet to be made public.

Party members are apprehensive of the impact of the airing of dirty linen in public, particularly so close to the state Assembly elections. A senior party leader said Gandhi has an unenviable task before her. “There is so much bad blood… There is Amarinder on one side, Sidhu on the other, and many do not want a newcomer (Sidhu) to be given an important assignment. If the situation is not resolved properly, the party may have to pay a price in the 2022 elections,” the leader said.

A number of leaders are believed to have expressed reservations before the committee against the Amarinder government, accusing it of keeping out leaders and of letting bureaucrats run the show. While a few also opposed the CM personally, most leaders agreed he was still the best choice to lead the Congress in the polls. Three ministers opposed to Amarinder met Rawat in Delhi even on Wednesday, including Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Sukhbinder Sarkaria and Sukhjinder Randhawa.

Sidhu himself has been uncharacteristically quiet since talking to the media soon after appearing before the committee.

Among those firefighting on Amarinder’s behalf and rallying support for him is Sports Minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi. Known to be an Amarinder confidant, he had earlier tried to patch up matters between him and Sidhu, and on Wednesday got some MPs to voice support for the CM.

On Wednesday, Sodhi took a government chopper to Dehradun apparently on a personal visit, setting tongues wagging. Rawat is based in Dehradun but he has been in Delhi for the past week.

Several Punjab Congress leaders have openly taken on Sodhi, including Jalandhar MLA Pargat Singh, who without naming him raised a land controversy, and PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar, who has accused Sodhi of a quid pro quo with the Badals.

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