Even as the three-member AICC panel overlooking the current crisis in Punjab Congress continues to hold parleys with state leaders, a ‘discreet’ move to shake up the state unit has been set into motion by the highest echelons of the party.
Reliable sources within the party said that apart from the Kharge-led panel which was trying to resolve the seemingly deep-rooted differences between Capt Amarinder Singh and Navjot Singh Sidhu, senior party leader Rahul Gandhi had also opened up other ‘communication channels’ to carry out a drastic makeover in the state unit of the party. The restructuring of the party has been on the backburner for quite some time now mainly because of the bickering within the state unit.
Sources said that Rahul had been seeking informal suggestions from local leadership as well as a senior party leader from Rajasthan Harish Chaudhary who was Punjab affairs in charge during the 2017 assembly polls. “While the resolution of the crisis is important, the party is also feeling that the major overhaul of the state unit was necessary for which Rahul Gandhi is taking keen interest personally,’’ said a source in the party.
Party insiders said that Chaudhary has been acting as a ‘link’ between MLAs and Rahul to assess the mood in the state unit based on which the rejig will be carried out. Also, sources say, Chaudhary would also be in the running for the post of party affairs in charge as the incumbent Harish Rawat is reported to have asked party high command to relieve him of the charge so that he could concentrate on Uttarakhand polls due next year.
The new party affairs in charge is likely to be someone already conversant with the dynamics of Punjab politics, who could strike a balance between different factions. “Chaudhary can chip in well if asked to do a balancing act,’’ commented a leader.
Rawat’s appointment as Congress’ state affairs in charge in place of Asha Kumari in September last year was seen as a big boost for the anti-Capt Amarinder camp. A Congress veteran, Rawat was tasked with bringing all the factions together and more importantly a truce between the Chief Minister and his former Cabinet colleague. But since the matter was still to be resolved the high command was also taking a shot at a restructuring of the party unit trying to accommodate different factions.