In a desperate bid to douse the flames of dissent engulfing the Congress in Punjab, chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has started holding ‘secret’ parleys with his detractors within the party to avert a huge political crisis ahead of the elections.
The most significant political move of the chief minister seems to be a ‘secret meeting’ that he is reported to have held with one of his biggest dissenter and party MP, Partap Singh Bajwa. Highly reliable sources said that the two met in Chandigarh on late Thursday evening, a meeting that was organised by another party MP.
Bajwa has been a strident critic of the chief minister and has been associated with the detractor lobby lead by former cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu. Despite repeated attempts by News18, Bajwa remained incommunicado. But sources said that he may have stitched a deal with the Singh for distancing himself from the leaders in the rival camp.
According to an insider, Bajwa was keen on contesting the Punjab assembly election and the compromise allegedly revolved around his getting back into active political mode for the Punjab Congress. Bajwa’s reported meeting could impact the rival camp lead by Sidhu as he was beginning to cobble together a ‘front of rebels’ against the chief minister.
Bajwa had expressed his support publicly to other dissident leaders, seeking the ouster of the chief minister Singh. An open critic of the chief minister, Bajwa had even mended his differences with Sukhjinder Randhawa to join ranks with Sidhu.
With the crisis far from over, the chief minister has now gone on an overdrive to reach out to the rebels. In fact, many Punjab ministers, including dissidents, attended a meeting called by him at his residence on Thursday ahead of Friday’s cabinet meeting. Those who attended the meeting included dissident ministers, Sukhjinder Randhawa, Sukhbinder Sarkaria, Charanjit Channi, Gurpreet Kangar and Tript Rajinder Bajwa,
Capt Amarinder Singh is also meeting legislators in batches to `listen’ to their grievances. “This was the major complaint of the dissident camp that the CM wasn’t accessible and had detached himself from the party. He perhaps realizes that it’s important to send a message that he is still connected to the legislators and is listening to the grass root workers on the ground," said a party leader.