Amid uncertainty over the Congress high command’s peace plan for the faction-ridden state unit, former party president and Lok Sabha member Rahul Gandhi continued his meetings with Punjab leaders on Friday who urged him to resolve the rift quickly.
Rahul held one-to-one meetings with state cabinet ministers Brahm Mohindra, Vijay Inder Singla and Balbir Singh Sidhu, Rajya Sabha member Shamsher Singh Dullo and MLAs Rana Gurjit Singh, Lakhvir Singh Lakha and Sukhwinder Singh Danny who were summoned to Delhi to share their views on the political situation and suggest steps the party and the government need to take in the run-up to the assembly polls due early next year.
‘No time to talk of change of general’
Mohindra, one of the senior-most Congress leaders in the state, is learnt to have told the former party chief that this is not the time to talk about changing the general as the assembly elections are round the corner and the party needs to devote all its energies on ensuring victory.
“He said if the party leadership wanted any change, it should have looked at it two or two-and-a-half years ago. Now is not the time,” sources said on the local government minister’s 30-minute meeting with Rahul. The minister, who is number two in the pecking order in cabinet hierarchy, also conveyed his displeasure over former minister Navjot Singh Sidhu’s repeated statements bad-mouthing the chief minister and the government, telling the central leader that his (former minister’s) remarks have hurt the party’s image in the state.
Dullo suggests surgical strike ‘without delay’
While most others said they urged the central leader to resolve differences among the leaders at the earliest, Dullo, a known detractor of Amarinder, told him that the high command will have to carry out a surgical strike without any delay to defuse the present situation and revive the party in the state.
“This crisis is the creation of defectors who come with high expectations. The party needs to make use of the experience of traditional Congressmen who have been shoved into a corner, and not the party-hoppers. Also, to strengthen the party, Hindu leaders need to be given due importance, particularly in urban areas,” the former Punjab Congress president said after his meeting.
Sharing details of his discussion with the Wayanad MP, Dullo said immediate steps are needed to control sand, illicit liquor and transport mafias, deliver justice in the sacrilege and police firing cases and timely provision of SC scholarships.
“I also told him (Rahul) that the office of Punjab Congress has been under lockdown for the past three-four years,” he said.
Rana Gurjit said he had a good meeting with Rahul. “I gave my views on what the party needs to do, but cannot share what we talked in the media,” he said, refusing to go into details.
MLA Lakha is learnt to have told the former party chief that the high command should make everyone sit together and resolve the situation. “If the party is united, we are sure to repeat victory,” he said. Rahul had met more than 20 ministers, MPs and legislators and most of them from the dissenting group in the first three days of this week.
Earlier, a three-member committee set up by Congress president Sonia Gandhi on the Punjab crisis held a series of meetings with 150-odd leaders and has submitted its report. On Wednesday, Rawat said that Sonia would take a decision on the government and organisational rejig by July 10.