Punjab Crisis: CM Amarinder Meets Cong Panel for the Second Time

Amid infighting in the state unit, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh met a three-member panel at the Parliament.

3 min read
Captain Amarinder Singh and Navjot Singh Sidhu.

Just weeks after meeting the Congress party’s central leadership in Delhi amid fierce infighting and factionalism in the state unit, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh is in Delhi for the second time this month as the crisis refuses to abate.

Chief Minister Singh arrived at the Parliament to meet a three-member All India Congress Committee panel in Leader of Opposition (LoP) Mallikarjun Kharge's office on Tuesday, 22 June

The three-member panel, formed to iron out differences within different factions of the Punjab unit, also comprises General Secretary in-charge of Punjab Harish Rawat, and former MP Jai Prakash Aggarwal. This will be Singh’s second meet with the committee after 4 June.

The development has come at a time when Singh is trying to tackle the latest turmoil in the party over giving government jobs to sons of two MLAs, a move that his rivals within Congress have demanded to be rolled back.


What Happened at the Meeting?

Ahead of the meeting, Kharge assured that everything was fine within the party.

“We will fight the (Assembly) election under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Everyone in one voice said that they'll fight the election together,” he said.

However, the committee as well as Congress leader Rahul Gandhi have expressed displeasure over Navjot Sidhu’s recent statement saying that “two families are taking advantage of Punjab,” ANI reported quoting sources.

The committee also asked CM Singh to reportedly expedite the work of dissident MLAs and said that it is important to keep the MLAs satisfied before the election, according to ANI.

The Latest Turmoil

The latest turmoil kicked off over the decision to give jobs to sons of two Congress MLAs – Arjun Pratap Singh Bajwa as an inspector and Bhisham Pandey as naib tehsildar in the Revenue department. Singh’s government said that the jobs were granted on “compassionate grounds” as their grandfathers were murdered by terrorists.

Congress MLA Kuljit Nagra as well as Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar, along with five other cabinet ministers, asked the government to roll back the “ill-advised move” in “greater public interest”.

On the other hand, nine cabinet ministers and four Congress MPs have backed the state government’s decision, calling it “correct and in line with appointments given to similarly situated persons in the past”.

Calling the opposition to the move “shameful”, Singh on Sunday, said: “No question of rescinding the Punjab Cabinet decision on jobs for sons of two Congress MLAs. It is just a small token of gratitude and compensation for the sacrifices of their families. It's shameful that some people are giving political colour to this decision.”


The Factionalism

Tensions have been brewing in Punjab Congress for the past several weeks as former state minister Navjot Singh Sidhu last month slammed Captain Amarinder Singh, alleging that his colleagues were being threatened for raising questions on the state government’s handling of the ‘sacrilege’ case.

The crisis began to intensify last month after Sidhu alleged mishandling of the case by the Amarinder Singh-led government as the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashed an SIT report into the Kotkapura firing incident of 2015.

Sidhu accused the CM of evading responsibility in the case and demanded action against the perpetrators.

Sidhu met the panel on 1 June and reportedly apprised it of the “demands of the people of Punjab”.

Three days later on 4 June, Singh, too, met the three-member committee for “introspection” of the elections that are six months away. Several reports later suggested that the panel had advised Singh to take all stakeholders into consideration, even during cabinet expansion.

Before meeting Singh, the panel had already met several MPs and MLAs from the state.

(With inputs from ANI and NDTV)

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