M A I N   N E W S

Capt vs Bhattal
Cong panel calls halt to spat
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 15
Even as the Congress high command is trying to defuse the public squabble between Amarinder Singh and Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, members of the Punjab Congress Coordination Committee today told the party’s state in charge Margaret Alva that the “dissent” by Amarinder was harming the party while saner voices within the party suggested that Amarinder was not some “small fry” in the political arena and he should not be pushed against the wall.

Rather he and Bhattal be made to co-exist within the party and the best person to enforce a compromise formula would be Sonia Gandhi herself, said sources within the party, while detailing the outcome of the meeting.

As expected, Amarinder Singh stayed away from the meeting as he had already sent a fax to the party chief Sonia Gandhi, voicing his objections on the members of the committee and excused himself.

On the issue of increasing the number of members of the committee to accommodate some Amarinder supporters, Alva reportedly said the committee was formed by Gandhi and only she had the right to increase the number of members or to change its composition.

Among those who highlighted the “dissent” by Amarinder Singh for having spoken against the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Rajinder Bhattal, were two of his former cabinet ministers Surinder Singla and Lal Singh. The duo were part of Amarinder’s charmed inner-circle when he was the Chief Minister of Punjab.

The sources said Alva assured the members of the committee that she would convey their sentiments to Sonia Gandhi. The Congress chief could also appoint a person, who could talk out the issue on a one-to-one basis with Bhattal and Amarinder.

A similar formula was adopted when Bhattal had raised a banner of revolt against Amarinder Singh during his tenure as Chief Minister. Then a senior Congressman from Punjab was asked to sort out the differences. That Congressman is now a minister in the Union Cabinet.

Meanwhile, Alva also asked a few senior members if they could talk to Amarinder and defuse the crisis. The Congressmen reportedly conveyed that Amarinder was acting beyond reason and even quoted yesterday’s example of the political rally at Talwandi Sabo, where Amarinder, along with his supporters, left the venue after he had spoken.

Meanwhile, the party has now decided that any rally that will be organised in Punjab will have to have the explicit permission of the PPCC. This means, Bhattal will have to clear the rallies. This comes after Amarinder and his supporters were also planning to hold rallies in the state.



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