Punjab political crisis: Congress high command asked to tame dissident leaders

Amritsar: With a zilch or little progress made by the state Congress government in fulfilling the pre-poll promises and to end the proxy rule of bureaucracy, the  Punjab  Congress party’s Member Parliaments (MP), Member Legislative Assembly (MLA), and other leaders have opened up their hearts before the party high command to avoid any embarrassment in the ensuing 2022 assembly elections especially in wake of rising voices of discontentment emerging from within the Punjab  Congress leadership.

As the infighting in Punjab Congress escalated and went public to an extent that the vitriolic statements of a few leaders, especially by the former cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu which has brought much embarrassment to chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, the Congress high command swung into action and decided to give a patient hearing to the brewing discontentment among Congress leaders of Punjab.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi constituted a three-member committee including All India Congress Committee general secretary and in charge of Punjab affairs Harish Rawat, former Delhi MP JP Aggarwal, and leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and tasked them to resolve the crisis before it goes out of hands.

Sources privy to the meetings informed Zee News that a majority of Congress MPs MLAs and other leaders impressed upon the Congress high command to focus on the party faithful and not the fickle coat changers through the three-member clique since the same could bring much damage to the party prospects in 2022 assembly elections.

The indication was clear that dissident leaders, including Sidhu, Pargat Singh etc. should be tamed and made to fall in line and a message should be sent across to others whose actions could prove fatal to party prospects in Punjab.

The Punjab leaders also complained of their continuous neglect by the chief minister and giving the reigns of governance in the hands of the bureaucracy. 

“About a year and a half ago I had sought an appointment to the chief minister, but haven’t listened from him so far whereas I am always available at the beck and call of any of the municipal councillor of my assembly after all these are the people who eventually garner votes for us” complained a Congress MLA on condition of not divulging his name. 

While candidly admitting that a large amount of money was required to finance politics, another senior Congress leader alleged that it was not always the cleanest money which was used in politics, but due to carte blanche given to the bureaucracy, the political decisions taken by them were overruled by the bureaucracy. 

“Besides, we have not fulfilled most of our 2017 pre-poll promises, including the eradication of drugs, sentences to those behind sacrilege incidents, jobs and mobiles to youth and so many others, we are not only humiliated by the opposition but feel abashed when we meet our voters,” said another senior Congress leader from Majha area of Punjab.

Though Navjot Singh Sidhu has been harping on his voice before media that he has ‘uncovered the truth of Punjab’ before the three-member committee, if sources are to believed, the issues of giving unbridled powers to bureaucracy and non-fulfillment of pre-poll promises overshadowed the dissident’s issue especially sulking Navjot Singh Sidhu’s issue who didn’t have much hold on state polity except having the celebrity status which has also been fading over the years.

Even Perneet Kaur member of Parliament from Patiala and wife of Capt Captain Amrinder Singh while defending Capt government took a jibe at Navjot Singh Sidhu, MLA Amritsar east constituency said Sindhu should pay attention to look after his constituency during the Covid pandemic and should contribute to the endeavour to keep Punjab safe. 

She went on to say that If Sidhu has any grievances, he should go to the Chief Minister or the party high command.

According to available information, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh will leave for Delhi in the afternoon to meet the three-member panel, today evening.

Sources say that the Congress high command likely to change the Punjab affairs in-charge very soon.

AICC general secretary Harish Rawat, who is a former Uttarakhand CM already conveyed to party command that he is keen on focussing on the Assembly elections in his state early next year. If sources to believe JP Aggarwal is the front runner for the next Punjab affairs chief amongst few others.

However, this is also clear that captain Amrinder Singh’s final nod will set the name of the next Punjab affairs chief. As amidst the ruckus in the Punjab Congress, the committee constituted by the high command has made it clear that Capt Amrinder Singh will remain the chief minister’s face in the 2022 assembly elections.

In most likelihood, Punjab could witness a  bureaucratic rejig in near future aiming to give a free hand to the elected representatives and the state government could attempt to assuage people’s resentment with an announcement to fulfill a few pre-poll promises of 2017 or some people-friendly announcements.

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