Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Friday intervened in the disquiet in party’s Punjab unit over the sacrilege issue, and constituted a three-member committee to bring about a truce amongst the warring faction. The 3-member team will include Mallikarjun Kharge, JP Agarwal and Harish Rawat who will soon begin consultations with senior leaders of the state unit, the party said.
According to sources, the panel members are also expected to meet Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and his bête noire Navjot Singh Sidhu. The two had declared an all-out war against each other after Sidhu started targeting the chief minister over the High court verdict on Punjab government’s SIT that probed the Kotkapura incident.
Sidhu had been openly accusing the Singh of going slow against the Badals which he alleged lead to the court trashing the SIT finding and giving a clean chit to the Akali dal leaders in the firing case. Singh, on the other hand, launched a scathing attack on Sidhu alleging that he was hobnobbing with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders.
The war of words triggered a massive infighting within the unit with legislators from Sidhu and Singh camps firing salvos at each other. The infighting in Congress’ Punjab unit threatened to cause a major dent in the party’s prospects in the forthcoming state assembly polls.
With some legislators openly siding with Sidhu, senior party leaders feared an open rebellion that could threaten the party leadership in the state.
Though numbers seem to be in favour of the chief minister for now, but statements by some senior MPs like Partap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dullo have raised concerns in the party circle. “Though we believe that though there have been delays but nonetheless the constitution of the committee could result in tempers cooling down," remarked a senior party leader.
The situation in the party has become even more complicated with some Dalit leaders talking in terms of a Dalit face for the Chief Ministership. The CM himself has been pitching for Dalit as the State unit chief.