Rebel Punjab Congress leaders say headed for Delhi, seek to meet Sonia

THE PUNJAB Congress leaders who called on state party in-charge Harish Rawat in Dehradun Wednesday claimed they had a “very fruitful” three-hour-long meeting with him and that they had informed him about the “quid pro quo of Amarinder Singh with the Akalis” and that the party would lose the elections if he

continued as Chief Minister.

Asked about Rawat’s statement reported by ANI that the Congress would fight the elections under Amarinder, a source said, “Kuchch majboorian rahin hongi (He must have had some compulsions).” A leader close to the rebel camp added, “Rawat Sahib heard them out very patiently. He told them that the change in CM is in the offing. It is just a matter of time.”

The rebel leaders will reportedly seek an appointment with AICC chief Sonia Gandhi next, and are planning to reach Delhi Thursday.

The seven leaders who met Rawat included ministers Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Charanjeet Singh Channi and Sukhbinder Sarkaria, and MLAs Barindermeet Pahda, Kulbir Zira and Surjit Dhiman.

Channi said, “In the Congress, there is a procedure. If we are upset due to any reason, we have to meet the general secretary first for approaching the party high command. For that, we met him (Rawat) today and are satisfied with his assurance… We will follow the decision of the high command.”

Rawat claimed to The Indian Express that the ongoing developments would not damage the Congress prospects in the elections. “We will resolve the internal issues. Everyone will contest the polls unitedly.” Rawat also said he would go to Delhi to meet the high command soon.

Incidentally, among the 34 MLAs who Bajwa claimed had met at his residence Tuesday and demanded Amarinder’s removal, three more — Nathu Ram, Satkar Kaur and Kaka Lohgarh — backtracked Wednesday. On Tuesday, the CMO had claimed that seven of the MLAs at the meeting had vowed support to Amarinder.

Nathu Ram said he never told anyone he wanted the CM replaced. Incidentally, he along with his aide Dhiman were the first two MLAs to raise a banner of revolt against Amarinder, in the second year itself of his government. Satkar Kaur said she had been told the meeting would discuss development works in constituencies, and expressed full confidence in Amarinder. Kaka Lohgarh said he was not among those who had sought the CM’s ouster.

Amarinder’s wife Preneet Kaur, an MP, criticised the rebels for hurting the party before the polls, while former minister Rana Gurjit Singh accused them of enjoying the perks of power and now complaining. MLA Fateh Jung Singh Bajwa said new Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu should be wary of such people. On a question regarding controversy over social media posts of advisers of Sidhu, Rawat said Sidhu had been asked to “control” them.

Malvinder Singh Mali, who is among those facing fire over remarks on Kashmir, Wednesday distanced Sidhu from the same. Calling the remarks his personal opinion, he admitted that he chose a wrong time to voice them

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