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Congress infighting: Will it be a ‘Floor Test’ in Congress Bhawan? Showdown likely as AICC calls Punjab CLP Meet on Saturday

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Chandigarh, September 18, 2021 (Yes Punjab News)
Two warring camps in Punjab Congress – one led by Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and the other led by PPCC Chief Navjot Singh Sidhu – are likely to have a show of strength or a showdown on Saturday as AICC has fixed a meeting of the Punjab Congress legislature party on Saturday.

AICC General Secretary and Punjab Affairs in-charge Harish Rawat late Friday said, “The AICC has received a representation from a large number of MLAs from the Congress party, requesting to immediately convene a meeting of the Congress Legislative Party of Punjab. Accordingly, a meeting of the CLP has been convened at 5:00 PM on 18th September at Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee office. AICC directs the PPCC to facilitate this meeting. All congress MLAs of Punjab are requested to kindly attend this meeting.”

Minutes after Rawat’s communiqué, Sidhu being PPCC Chief responded to the directive, via Twitter, and said “As per the AICC directive, Congress Legislative Party meeting has been convened at PPCC Office, Chandigarh on 18 September 2021 (Saturday) 5 PM.”

The meeting has been called in response to a letter reportedly written by those owing allegiance to the Navjot Singh Sidhu camp.

YesPunjab had earlier reported that a letter has been written by certain Ministers and MLAs of the ‘rebel’ group to Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi requesting her to convene a meeting of the legislature party and appoint two Central Observers for the same.

However, it is not yet clear who would be coming to Chandigarh as Central Observer. Harish Rawat has neither indicated his arrival nor mentioned names of any observers as desired by the ‘rebel camp’. Rawat is tied up in Haridwar on Saturday for the 2nd leg of his ‘Parivartan Yatra’ ahead of 2022 Uttarakhand polls where he is likely to be projected as CM face by the party.

However, the buzz is that Harish Rawat may supervise the meeting or the party top brass may send Ajay Maken and Harish Chaudhary as Observers.

Now, it has emerged that the move to write a letter to Congress President, spearheaded by rebel minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa and PPCC General Secretary Organization Pargat Singh MLA, has the backing of 38 more MLAs. It is being said that the letter has 40 signatures, a fact ‘confirmed’ by Rawat himself, as he has also mentioned the number of MLAs as ‘large’.

Though there is no specific agenda of the meeting out as yet, it is presumed that it could not be a simple discussion on any agenda whatsoever, even if there is, as is being reported in a section of the press. Reports say that the meeting has been called to chalk out a strategy for the 2022 Assembly elections and to discuss the outcome of the 18-point agenda handed over to the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh by the AICC during his meeting with the top leadership of the party amid the rebellion initiated by Sidhu.

Though, there seems to be no agenda regarding the replacement of the Chief Minister, sources say it could be sprung during the meeting as things have reached a ‘point of no return’ not between Amarinder and Sidhu but between Amarinder and at least four ministers and some MLAs too.

While the ‘Majha Brigade’ comprising of 3 Ministers from the Region – Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Sukhbinder Singh Sukh Sarkaria – & another minister Charanjit Singh Channi had openly come out against the Chief Minister and demanded his removal, Surjit Singh Dhiman, an MLA of the rebel group has openly stated that he would not be contesting 2022 election under the leadership of Capt Amarinder Singh, if the Congress decides to again project him as the party’s CM face.

The going has not been good for Congress in the state since Sidhu started a Twitter war against the Chief Minister. It is apparent now that he had the backing of two of the top leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

Rebellion is not new to Congress, but this is for the first time that AICC General Secretary in-charge of the state deputed by Sonia Gandhi herself and entrusted to sort the things out has been targeted by Ministers and Sidhu’s friend turned PPCC General Secretary Pargat Singh. While Pargat Singh took on Rawat by questioning his authority on making a statement that ‘Amarinder will be the CM face of the party for 2022 elections’ and also indicating that ‘Itt naal Itt Khadka deyanga’ statement of Sidhu was not meant for top leadership of the party but Rawat. Apart from this, Sidhu, though after meeting Rawat, left for Delhi to meet top leadership, even as the AICC in charge was camping in Chandigarh and meeting leaders including the Chief Minister to diffuse the situation.

Objecting to the way the Punjab Congress affairs were handled by Rawat and anguished by Rawat’s behavior during their Dehradun visit, Tript Bajwa, Sukhjinder Randhawa, Sarkaria and Channi even did not care to call on Rawat when he was in Chandigarh for three days to sort out the matter. Another grudge they had against Rawat was that he didn’t put their case properly before the high command and they were denied a meeting by Sonia Gandhi or Rahul even as they camped in Delhi to meet them and tell their side of the story.

It has emerged that meetings were held first at Tript Bajwa’s residence and later at Pargat Singh house in Chandigarh to chalk out a strategy and garner the support of a maximum number of MLAs. A signature campaign was launched and it is being reported that the letter sent to Sonia has signatures of 40 MLAs.

Rawat, who had tried to ‘recuse’ himself from the case to devote time to his state which is also going to elections in 2022 along with Punjab was again called by Sonia Gandhi in wake of the letter demanding a CLP meet and asked to head to Punjab.

However, even as it was expected that Rawat could land in Chandigarh to discuss the things with both the factions, AICC has gone a step ahead and itself fixed a meeting of the CLP stating even time and place and asking all the MLAs to attend it positively has created a buzz among Congress circles.

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