Even after the Congress’s dismal performance in the Punjab assembly elections, there seems to be no let up in factionalism within the state party with various groups now eyeing the post of the leader of opposition in the newly constituted assembly.
A group of 25 Congress leaders met over lunch at former MLA Navtej Cheema’s residence in Sultanpur Lodhi on Saturday to deliberate over, as sources said, the likely candidate for the Leader of Opposition. Apart from other leaders, the meeting was also attended by former PCC Chief Navjot Singh Sidhu.
A section within the Congress was trying to build up pressure in favour of Sukhpal Khaira as the Leader of Opposition and Navjot Singh Sidhu once again as the PCC chief, sources said.
Apart from Kharia, the only other MLA who attended the meeting was BS Dhaliwal from Phagwara. Even though the meeting was held in Doaba, only two legislators from the region attended it. Those who skipped the meeting included Sidhu’s aides Pargat Singh from Jalandhar Cantt and Bawa Henry from Jalandhar North.
Those present included former minister MS Kaypee, ex-MLAs Rakesh Pandey, Ashwani Sekhri, Sunil Dutti, Davinder Singh Gubhaya, Sukhwinder Danny, Jagdev Singh Kamalu, Pirmal Singh and Rupinder Ruby.
Sources in the party said that the hectic parleys had begun for choosing the Leader of Opposition and also the PCC chief. While a section of the party was trying to pitch for Partap Singh Bajwa for the LoP post, another lobby supported by Sidhu was trying to prop up Khaira.
“We need to keep on building pressure as a responsible opposition party. We may only be a small number of legislators but the leader of the pack should be someone with a good track record. Khaira could fill in," said one of the leaders who attended the meeting.
More meetings of different groups are expected to be held in the coming days to ‘lobby’ for the two posts, sources said.
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