M A I N   N E W S

Dissidents may go on Bharat Darshan
Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
In an attempt to break the deadlock, a delegation of Punjab Congress MPs called on Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and Mrs Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, both leaders of dissident MLAs, at their Punjab Bhavan camp office in New Delhi late this evening. The delegation had come with a set of proposals which dissidents outrightly rejected.

Dissident leaders, including Mrs Bhattal, Mrs Bhinder, Mr Tej Parkash Singh, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee ,however, went to 10 Janpath for a meeting with Mrs Sonia Gandhi late this evening. During the day, there was some setback to the negotiations as Mrs Bhattal complained of pain in the chest besides running high fever. She also had persisting pain in her back bone.

Because of her sickness, she may not be able to travel to Chandigarh from Delhi for personal appearance in a case listed for hearing tomorrow in a local court. Legal experts feel in case she does not appear, charges can’t be framed in her absence. Sources close to the dissidents reveal that in case there is any delay in a final verdict on their demand by the party high command, they will prefer to go on “Bharat Darshan” than Chandigarh.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has started dinner diplomacy to keep his flock of MLAs together. Informed sources said Capt Amarinder Singh this evening hosted a dinner for the MLAs of his group at his official residence here. However, he had to leave for Delhi around 7.30 p.m. following a message from the party high command for a meeting late tonight. In his absence, Mr Lal Singh, Finance Minister and a close confidant, played host to MLAs.

Informed sources said that Mrs Bhattal was offered the status of Co-Chief Minister in the Punjab Government. Besides, two slots of Deputy Chief Ministers were also offered to the Bhattal group apart from equal share in the Council of Ministers and important portfolios. However, all these proposals were rejected by the dissident camp, it is learnt. “ We have no other demand except the removal of Capt Amarinder Singh”, said dissidents.

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