Chandigarh: Amid the ongoing crisis in Punjab Congress, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh met senior party leaders from urban areas of the state at his residence in Chandigarh on Thursday. The meeting saw prominent faces like MLA Ashwani Sekri, who according to sources was on the verge of joining SAD. The personal calls from CM Singh and general secretary in-charge Harish Rawat earlier this week persuaded the veteran leader to stay back. Senior leaders like former state president Lal Singh as well as Cabinet Minister Brahm Mohinder were also present at Amarinder’s residence.
The luncheon meeting with the lawmakers is being seen as an attempt by CM to reach out to the disgruntled MLAs, especially from urban areas in Punjab which have a sizeable Hindu population. Akali Dal has been trying to strengthen its presence in urban seats after walking out of the NDA last year.
The development comes a day after Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu met with party leader Rahul Gandhi in the national capital.
Before meeting Rahul Gandhi, Sidhu met party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra at her residence.
Sidhu and Amarinder have been at loggerheads months ahead of the Punjab Assembly polls and the rift in the state unit has intensified in past few weeks.
While Sidhu met Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the party’s top leadership did not meet Punjab Chief Minister who was in Delhi recently for three days.
A senior Congress leader clarified that the Punjab Chief Minister had not sought time to meet the top leadership of the party.
Singh, however, had met the All India Congress Committee (AICC) panel entrusted with the task to end factionalism in the state unit.
Earlier, the AICC panel had submitted the report on the Punjab crisis to Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi with the ground realities and suggestions after the members of the panel met the Punjab Chief Minister.
On Wednesday, Rahul Gandhi held meetings with Punjab Congress MLAs, MPs, and other important leaders from the state, including PCC Chief Sunil Jakhar, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal and Harish Rawat.
On Friday, the leaders who reached Rahul Gandhi’s residence to attend a meeting included Vijendra Singla, Rana Gurjit Singh, RS MP Shamsher Singh Dhillon, and MLA Lakhvir Singh.
Rajya Sabha MP Shamsher Singh Dhillon while speaking to media persons had said that the meeting was held to resolve infighting in the Punjab Congress and added that decisions were made to strengthen the party in the upcoming elections in the state.
Punjab Assembly polls, scheduled for next year, are being considered crucial for Congress as it is one of the few states where the party is still in power.
In 2017 Assembly polls, Congress won an absolute majority in the state by winning 77 seats and ousted the SAD-BJP government after 10 years.
Aam Aadmi Party emerged as the second-largest party winning 20 seats in the 117-member Punjab Legislative Assembly. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) could only manage to win 15 seats while the BJP secured 3 seats.
(With inputs from ANI)