CHANDIGARH: In a damage control mode, the three-member panel set up by Congress president Sonia Gandhi has summoned Punjab’s 25 senior MLAs, including cabinet ministers, to Delhi on Monday for discussion on the internal rift in the party and preparation for the 2022 state assembly polls.
Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh will meet the panel on Thursday and Friday and his bête noire as well as former cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu would be meeting the panel headed by the leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and comprising AICC general secretary in-charge for Punjab affairs Harish Rawat and former Congress president of Delhi JP Aggarwal, on Tuesday. Sidhu has been sharpening his attack on Amarinder for the last few weeks.
Former CM of Uttarakhand Harish Rawat
Cabinet ministers Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Charanjit Singh Channi, who had been raising questions on their own government’s unfulfilled promises made during the 2017 state assembly polls, including justice in sacrilege cases of sacred Guru Granth Sahib would be meeting the panel on the first day of the three-day meeting session.
One-to-one meet with all 80 Cong MLAs: Rawat
Other Punjab cabinet ministers who will have a one-to-one discussion with the panel members on Monday, include local bodies minister Brahm Mohindra, panchayats and higher education minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal, forests and social welfare minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, medical education minister OP Soni, women and child development minister Aruna Chaudhary, industries minister Sunder Sham Arora, and sports and youth affairs minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi. Punjab assembly speaker Rana KP Singh will also attend the first meeting.
Other MLAs meeting the three-member panel on Monday are Rana Gurjeet Singh (Kapurthala), Raj Kumar Verka (Amritsar West), Amrik Singh Dhillon (Samrala), Sukhwinder Singh Danny (Jandiala), Arun Dogra (Dasuya), Randeep Singh Nabha (Amloh), Raj Kumar Chhabewal (Hoshiarpur), Rakesh Pandey (Ludhiana North) and Pawan Kumar Adia (Amloh).
According to Rawat, the panel will have a one-to-one meeting with all the 80 Punjab Congress MLAs, including the chief minister, eight Lok Sabha MPs and three Rajya Sabha MPs.
Ahead of Monday’s meeting session, Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar has already reached Delhi. The panel has invited the MLAs based on their seniority for the meeting and for Monday’s meeting at the Congress office on Gurudwara Rakabganj Road in New Delhi at 11 am, there would be 13 legislators from Malwa and six each from Majha and Doaba.
Urmar MLA and prominent face from backward class Sangat Singh Gilzian, who had in April 2018 resigned from all party posts after not finding his name in the list of new cabinet ministers and had also been showing displeasure with his own state government has also been called on the first day for the meeting.
Jalandhar Cantt MLA and Sidhu’s close friend Pargat Singh’s name is not there for Monday’s meeting. He had alleged earlier this month that chief minister’s political secretary Capt Sandeep Sandhu had threatened him on mobile phone that he could be booked in police cases if he raised voice against the chief minister on sacrilege and other issues.
Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa, who had been critical of the Punjab chief minister on various issues, tweeted ahead of Monday’s meeting without naming anyone, “Be courageous & answer the call of your conscience. The almighty & people of Punjab are watching.”
Cricketer-turned-politician Sidhu, also tweeted, “I have repeatedly emphasised that Punjab Govt & farmer unions can come together to give production, storage & trade of all agricultural produce in the hands of the farmers… Farmers’ unity can be transformed from being a social movement to an unparalleled economic force!!”