Punjab Congress crisis: Jakhar, top ministers meet Congress panel in Delhi

A consensus formulation could include two deputy chief ministers

Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 31

The Congress’s festering issue — Punjab factionalism— is finally in for some healing with the official panel constituted to resolve differences commencing discussions with key stakeholders on Monday.

The first to meet the three-member committee appointed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi this morning from 11 am was state Congress chief Sunil Jakhar, known for his proximity both to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and to former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.

Jakhar, famed for speaking his mind to the Congress high command, hasn’t been able to constitute the state Congress committee due to lack of consensus on accommodation of people close to former minister and Amarinder Singh critic Navjot Singh Sidhu.

A resolution through the Sonia Gandhi panel, which constitutes her loyalists Mallikarjun Kharge, JP Agarwal and AICC General Secretary Harish Rawat, would mean meeting ground between CM Amarinder Singh and Sidhu on the constitution of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee with a few months left for the 2022 state polls.

Besides Jakhar, who met the panel for over half-an-hour, top ministers Brahm Mohindra, OP Soni, Manpreet Badal, Tript Bajwa, Rana Sodhi, Sukhjinder Randhawa, Sunder Sham Arora, Charanjit Channi, Aruna Chowdhry also met the committee, which has kept three days for consultations until Wednesday and plans to move quickly to end the stalemate, which is rooted in the 2019 exit of Navjot Sidhu from the state Cabinet and his continued existence in the cold.

Sidhu wants a respectable rehabilitation, which could mean a deputy CM post in this election year although he is known to have wanted Jakhar’s job for long.

MLAs Ram Awla, Gurkirat singh, Rana Gurjeet Singh, , Arun dogra, Raj Kumar Chabbewal, Rana KP, Rakesh Panday are also meeting the panel today with meetings expected to last until this evening.

Reliable party sources say a consensus could involve appointment of more than one deputy CMs, may be two, one being Sidhu and the other a leader from another dominant Punjab caste.

The CM would like a balance at the top going into elections and has not been very happy with public vituperations of Sidhu and some other MLAs.

Meanwhile, AICC sources say change of CM was never a matter or discussion.

“The objective of discussions is achievement of broad unity and the best way forward for that,” a Congress source said.

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