The State is due to hold Assembly elections in 2022.
A report submitted by an All India Congress Committee (AICC) panel to party president Sonia Gandhi has said that the Congress needs to actively promote second-rung leaders in Punjab, where Assembly elections are slated for early next year.
The report, submitted on June 10, said that Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh is the tallest leader in the State but it was important to accommodate all sections.
The panel’s suggestion that the Chief Minister should give importance to other leaders is being seen as a move to rehabilitate Navjot Singh Sidhu. A final decision on how to accommodate Mr. Sidhu, who has been at the forefront of dissidence against Capt. Singh, has been left to Ms. Gandhi.
Sources said the report of three-member panel, comprising Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, AICC general secretary (Punjab) Harish Rawat and Congress leader J.P. Aggarwal, also suggested a complete revamp of the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) along with the various committees, including the election-related committees.
Among the 20-odd recommendations, one was related to the setting up of a panel of Ministers and party leaders to regularly monitor the response/action on the requests made by party MLAs about various developmental work in their constituencies. This is in the backdrop of several MLAs complaining about lack of access to the Chief Minister.
The AICC panel is also learnt to have suggested welfare schemes for targeted groups like farmers and Scheduled Castes.
While Mr. Sidhu claimed to have told “the loud truth” about Punjab to the high command, the Chief Minister had countered him with a strong defence of his government and shared details of the work done to fulfil poll promises.
Speaking on organisational changes, the Chief Minister had argued that a Jat Sikh cannot be heading the PCC since the State government was already being headed by one. To ensure that the Hindu community doesn’t move away from the party, Capt. Amarinder had batted for a PCC chief from the community.
On the issue of Mr. Sidhu being a contender for the Deputy Chief Minister, the Chief Minister is learnt to have argued there should be more than one, and at least one should be from the Dalit community.