Tribune News Service
New Delhi, June 10
Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh should steer the Congress in the election year, his former Cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu suitably accommodated and all sections of society duly represented in the party, the AICC panel on Punjab affairs said in its report submitted to party chief Sonia Gandhi today.
Steering clear of recommending changes in the top leadership amid a power tussle between the CM and his detractors, the panel headed by Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge has reported to Sonia the dominant sentiment of state leaders. These leaders sought a course correction in the governance of Punjab by the CM but simultaneously said he should stay in charge in the larger interest of the party ahead of the 2022 elections.
The panel has noted the importance of Navjot Sidhu and his voter appeal and called for his “suitable accommodation”.
The decision on Sidhu’s “accommodation” has been left to Sonia after lack of unanimity on the proposals discussed in the panel although the offer of deputy chief ministership for Sidhu was “deliberated seriously along with a similar role for a Hindu and a Dalit leader”.
The CM is learnt to have categorically opposed Sidhu’s appointment as state unit chief in place of Sunil Jakhar, but did not oppose his accommodation in “another suitable role”. The CM was open to a change in PCC leadership but preferred a Hindu leader. The CM, however, stressed the need to represent all dominant castes of the state in any leadership structure – be it through a Cabinet or party rejig.
The final decision on Sidhu will be taken by Sonia, said sources. The committee also made suggestions to ensure the party returns to power in 2022 and issues of the electorate are addressed with “fair representation in the party and government positions to Sikhs, Hindus and the Dalits,” sources said.
Dismissing accusations of being inaccessible, the CM apparently told the panel that in Covid times the issue was not relevant as he had been interacting with stakeholders online.
KHARGE REPORT: KEY TAKEAWAYS
- Capt Amarinder Singh must stay at the helm for now in larger interest of the party
- Fine-tune the working of the state government, remove irritants flagged by party leaders
- Revamp PCC to represent every section
- Navjot Sidhu must be suitably accommodated
- Sonia Gandhi to take call on Sidhu and PCC chief
- CM open to changes in PCC leadership, prefers a Hindu or SC state chief
- Opposes Sidhu as PCC chief; Sidhu keen on the post
- Sidhu as Deputy CM discussed, but no unanimity yet