Three ministers missing from this afternoon’s cabinet meeting, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s loyalists are holding a show of strength this evening. Party leaders said more than 50 MLAs and 8 MPs are attending a dinner meet at the home of cabinet minister Rana Gurmeet Sodhi, a known loyalist of the Chief Minister.
“I had invited like-minded INC Punjab MPs and MLAs for dinner. 58 MLAs and 8 MPs graciously accepted my invitation and expressed the confidence that the party would win the 2022 polls under the leadership of Captain Amarinder Singh. The journey has started today,” Mr Sodhi said.
‘I’d invited like-minded @INCPunjab MPs & MLAs for dinner. 58 MLAs & 8 MPs graciously accepted my invitation & expressed the confidence that the party would win the 2022 polls under the leadership of @capt_amarinder. The journey has started today’: @iranasodhipic.twitter.com/HkHYIJpzU7
— Raveen Thukral (@RT_MediaAdvPBCM) August 26, 2021
This afternoon, barring Charanjit Singh Channi none of the three rebel cabinet ministers who met state in-charge Harish Rawat on Wednesday turned up for the cabinet meeting, held over video conference.
Sources said they took off for Delhi this morning. Tript Rajinder Bajwa, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria were among the rebel leaders who planned to meet the Central leadership to demand the removal of Mr Singh from the Chief Minister’s post.
The rebels had been demanding the removal contending that it was necessary to ensure the party’s victory in next year’s assembly elections. Mr Singh’s government, they said, had failed to meet its promises made ahead of the last state elections, which has hugely upset the people.
While they made it clear that Mr Singh will not be removed in view of next year’s assembly elections, the compromise formula also involved the elevation of Navjot Sidhu — the main challenger of the Chief Minister — as the head of the party’s state unit.
The peace brokered by the central leadership with the elevation of Navjot Sidhu, however, shattered over the weekend as Mr Singh made his displeasure clear about the remarks by Mr Sidhu’s advisers.
Pyare Lal Garg and Malwinder Mali had set off a political storm with their comments on Pakistan and Kashmir. In Facebook posts, Mr Mali suggested that both India and Pakistan were illegal occupants in Kashmir.
Mr Rawat made it clear that the party will not tolerate this and said Mr Sidhu must dismiss these advisors whom he had appointed.
“It is not this or that camp who objected (to those statements). The whole party and the state have objections too. The party has a line on Jammu and Kashmir — that it is a part of India,” Harish Rawat had told NDTV.