Sidhu likely to stay as Punjab Congress chief, coordination panel to be formed: Top developments | India News

NEW DELHI: The Congress seems to have reached a temporary truce in Punjab as sulking leader Navjot Singh Sidhu has agreed to continue as state chief just two days after resigning from the post.
Party sources said that a coordination panel is likely to be formed which will be consulted before any major decision is taken by the Punjab government.
The development comes after Sidhu held over two-hour-long talks with chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi in Chandigarh on Thursday.
Here are the top developments of the day …
‘Sidhu likely to stay as Punjab Cong chief’
Sources said that Sidhu has agreed to continue in his role as Punjab Congress president after the party decided to form a coordination panel for future decisions.
The panel may comprise the chief minister, Navjot Singh Sidhu and a representative of the AICC, the sources said.
Channi had invited Sidhu for talks after the cricketer-turned-politician abruptly resigned from the post due to some appointments made by the chief minister.
Sidhu had raised questions over the appointments of the DGP, state’s advocate general and “tainted” leaders such as Rana Gurjit Singh.
However, it is still unclear how differences over the appointment of the DGP and the AG will be dealt with.
Besides Channi and Sidhu, the meeting was attended by senior Congress leader and central observer Harish Chaudhary, minister Pargat Singh and Punjab Congress working president Kuljit Nagra, the sources said.
‘Leaving Congress but not joining BJP’
Meanwhile, former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh made it clear that he was not joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) but said he had no intention of continuing in the Congress.
Launching a scathing attack on his own party, Amarinder said that Congress was going downhill with senior leaders being completely ignored.
Singh said he would leave the Congress as he had been “utterly humiliated” and was not trusted.
Talking about the future moves, he said he was still thinking through his options in the interest of Punjab.
There was a strong speculation that Amarinder may switch to the BJP after his meeting with Union home minister Amit Shah on Wednesday.
Amarinder said he met Shah to discuss the farmers’ issue.
Earlier, he also called on National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval. Sources close to Singh had said he is also learnt to have discussed Punjab’s internal security situation with Shah.
Congress vs Congress intensifies
The crisis in Punjab has triggered an intense debate about the efficacy of the central leadership, with G23 leaders calling for an urgent meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC).
G23 refers to a group of 23 leaders who have been seeking a major revamp of the party’s organisation among other things.
With barbs being traded thick and fast within the Congress, some senior leaders of the party on Thursday came out in strong defence of the top leadership.
They attacked Kapil Sibal and other G23 leaders for raising questions about the functioning of the party.
In an apparent dig at the G23, Congress general secretary Tariq Anwar said it is amazing to see how some people’s character can change so much in their “selfishness”.
Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel termed Sibal’s remarks raising questions over the party’s functioning as “unfortunate”.
Posting a Urdu couplet of Mirza Ghalib, senior Congress leader and former law minister Ashwani Kumar took a dig at Sibal and tweeted, “Humein unse thi wafa ki umeed, jo jante nahi wafa kya hai (We hoped for loyalty from those who do not know what loyalty is).”
At a press conference in Ahmedabad, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said the party leaders must not go public with the internal matters as it hurts the ground level workers.
Senior leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, P Chidambaram, Anand Sharma, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Shashi Tharoor, Vivek Tankha and Raj Babbar were among those who rallied behind Sibal, with Sharma asking Gandhi to take strong action against those involved.
Chidambaram tweeted that he feels helpless when “we cannot start meaningful conversations within party forums”.
In the wake of several Congress leaders quitting the party and its Punjab unit in turmoil, Sibal has demanded that an immediate meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) be convened and wondered who in the party was taking decisions in the absence of a full-time president.
Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said that a CWC meeting is likely to be convened soon.
Carrying ‘Get Well Soon Kapil Sibal’ placards and raising slogans against Sibal, Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) workers had protested outside his Jor Bagh residence, saying they were “hurt” by his remarks.
The protesters raised slogans against Sibal, asking him to “leave the party”. A protestor also stood on his car.
‘Won’t let Sidhu win …’
Amarinder kept up his attack on Sidhu on Thursday and said he thinks that the cricketer-turned-politician is undermining Channi’s authority.
He also said the kind of situation that Sidhu has created was never seen before in Punjab.
Asked if Sidhu is undermining Channi’s authority, the veteran Congress leader said, “I think so.”
“Sidhu’s job is to run party affairs and Channi’s job is to run the government. There is never any interference. I have been the PCC chief thrice.
“The two (the Pradesh Congress Committee chief and the chief minister) consult each other, but the final decision is of Channi, who is the chief minister, not Sidhu,” Singh told reporters at the Chandigarh airport.
‘Attempts to undermine CM’s authority should end’
Echoing similar sentiments, former Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar said there should be an end to attempts to undermine the authority of the Punjab chief minister time and again.
Jakhar also said aspersions were being cast on the selection of the state’s advocate general and state police head were actually questioning the integrity of the CM.
Sidhu had raised questions over the appointments of director general of police and state’s advocate general.
“Enough is enough. Put an end to attempts to undermine the authority of CM time and again. Aspersions being cast on selection of AG & DGP is actually questioning the integrity/competence of CM and home minister to deliver results. It’s time to put the foot down and clear the air,” tweeted Jakhar, who was the front runner for the post of chief minister but the party later chose Channi.
BJP steps up attack on Congress
BJP general secretary Tarun Chugh on Thursday slammed the Congress for allegedly creating disorder and instability in Punjab close to the assembly elections.
He said the ugly infighting in the Punjab Congress has not only paralysed governance in the state but also exposed it to national security risks.
“The ISI gameplans are so obvious on the Punjab border and the irresponsible Congress government has compounded it,” Chugh said in a statement, adding that if the Congress allowed it to persist, it might create serious law and order problem in the state.
He said the frequent attack on the newly-appointed Punjab DGP by a section of the Congress leaders has demoralised the state police.
“This is a very dangerous situation for Punjab which has generated a sense of insecurity among people”, he said.
(With inputs from PTI)

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