Other States

Cong. panel bids to quell Punjab factionalism

As factionalism in Punjab reached a crisis point, a three-member Congress committee started meeting lawmakers from the State to work out an amicable solution.

With Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and senior party leader Navjot Sidhu on a war path over the 2015 sacrilege issue, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has tasked Opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress general secretary in-charge of Punjab Harish Rawat and senior leader J.P. Agarwal to broker peace.

“The meeting was for manthan [brainstorming]. It’s not about any individual but Punjab and the Congress. These meetings will take place over three days and MLAs, MPs and senior leaders will share their views on how to consolidate the position,” Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar told reporters after he met the panel.

For the past several weeks, Mr. Sidhu has been attacking the Amarinder Singh government for failing to hold the previous Parkash Singh Badal-led Akali government responsible for the 2015 Kotkapura firing incident following the desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib in Punjab’s Faridkot.

“Those who have given orders and killed unarmed Sikhs will not be spared,” responded Mr. Jakhar without naming anyone.

‘Tacit support’

Supporters of the Chief Minister argued that Mr. Sidhu’s open rebellion cannot take place without the tacit support from the party high command since the cricketer-turned-politician is known to be close to former party chief Rahul Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

Captain Singh’s loyalists also objected to Mr. Gandhi reportedly speaking to some of the Punjab MLAs through an aide ahead of their meeting with the three-member panel.

Apart from Mr. Sidhu, the Chief Minister also faces challenge from former Punab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa and Samsher Singh Dullo.

Among those who met the panel included Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal and Ministers Tript Bajwa, Brahm Mohindra, O.P. Soni, Rana Sodhi, Sukhjinder Randhawa among others. The outcome of these meetings will be important as the party is seeking to revamp its Punjab unit before Assembly elections.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2021 7:25:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/cong-panel-bids-to-quell-punjab-factionalism/article34693350.ece

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