Congress forms party-government coordination panel in Punjab

Amid continued friction between Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh and Navjot Singh Sidhu

Updated - August 20, 2021 11:41 pm IST

Published - August 20, 2021 12:24 pm IST - Chandigarh

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh with Navjot Singh Sidhu. File

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh with Navjot Singh Sidhu. File

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his detractor Navjot Singh Sidhu, the new State Congress president, on August 20 agreed to set up a 10-member ‘Strategic Policy Group’ to further expedite the implementation of various government programmes in the State. The move comes even as recent appointments by Mr. Sidhu strongly indicate his unrelenting slant against the Chief Minister.

“To ensure better coordination between the ruling party and the State government, and to further expedite the implementation of the various government programmes and reform initiatives, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu on Friday agreed to set up a 10-member ‘Strategic Policy Group’,” said an official statement,

To be headed by the Chief Minister, the group will have Local Government Minister Brahm Mohindra, Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal and Social Security Minister Aruna Chaudhary as members, along with Mr. Sidhu, the four party working presidents — Kuljit Singh Nagra, Sukhwinder Singh Danny, Sangat Singh Gilzian and Pawan Goel — besides Pargat Singh.

The decision was taken when Mr Sidhu, along with Mr Nagra and Mr Pargat, called on the Chief Minister to discuss Punjab related issues and steps to strengthen party-government coordination.

“The Group will hold weekly meetings, in consultation with other ministers, experts etc. as may be required. It will discuss and review the progress of the various State government initiatives already under implementation, and will also suggest measures to expedite the same,” said the statement.

While the setting-up of ‘Strategic Policy Group’ is seen as an attempt to bridge the gap between the two leaders, appointments made by Mr Sidhu in the party unit give a different indication.

 

On August 11, Mr Sidhu had appointed three advisors — Pyare Lal Garg, former registrar of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Malvinder Singh Mali, a farm activist and retired government official besides Amar Singh, a Lok Sabha MP. He has also appointed Jalandhar Cantonment MLA Pargat Singh as PPCC general secretary (organisation). Mr. Mali and Mr Pargat have been openly critical of Capt. Amarinder Singh’s style of working.

On August 19, Mr. Sidhu appointed former IPS officer Mohammad Mustafa as his principal strategic advisor. Mr Mustafa was one among others, whose seniority was given a skip while announcing Dinkar Gupta as State’s Director General of Police.

While Mr Sidhu even after his elevation as party chief had continued to attack his own government on farm law issues or alleged inaction in drug trafficking case, the Opposition has taken him to task.

Aam Aadmi Party Punjab affairs co-incharge and MLA from Delhi, Raghav Chadha recently hit out at Mr Sidhu asking him not to act like a ‘leader of Opposition’ and instead fulfil Congress’s election promises.

“Navjot Singh Sidhu should now stop acting as the Leader of Opposition as he is not only a part of the ruling Congress but also the party president now... Sidhu not to try to mislead the people again by asking to form the next government of the Congress and all the promises would be fulfilled. The current government is yours and you have only six months to deliver on your promises,” he stated.

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