Barely a few hours after his return following marathon meetings in Delhi, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi was once again summoned to the national capital Friday for another round of meetings.
While Congress is yet to finalise the names of the Cabinet ministers, sources said Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Navjot Singh Sidhu is also expected to reach Delhi to be a part of the discussions.
Channi was called to Delhi Thursday where he held two meetings — the first with senior leader K C Venugopal, general secretary in-charge Harish Rawat, Harish Chaudhary and Ajay Maken and the second with Rahul Gandhi, which lasted till 2 am.
The move to call Channi to Delhi came after Rahul met former PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar for 45 minutes. The party has been trying to impress upon Jakhar to accept a role in the Cabinet but he has been declining. An emissary of Gandhi had met Jakhar on Thursday before his meeting.
Sources privy to the meeting said Rahul and Jakhar discussed how to strengthen Congress in Punjab before 2022. They also discussed Jakhar’s role in the government as well as the party organisation.
Before this development, the Congress in Punjab was waiting for the list of Cabinet ministers as the CM is learnt to have conveyed to his colleagues that the list is finalised but it would be run through AICC chief Sonia Gandhi for a final word.
The party leaders were shying away from making the list public as there were already several protests. For instance, Manpreet Singh Badal has been vehemently opposing Amrinder Singh Raja Warring’s inclusion. There have been more aspirants like Gurkirat Kotli and Navtej Singh Cheema. We do not know how all aspirants will be included,” a party leader said.
While the party is retaining most of the ministers from Amarinder’s cabinet, it has to induct a few new faces, but is finding it difficult to make a decision.
Appointment of AG and DGP also on hold
Amid the tug of war between Punjab leaders, Rahul Gandhi is leant to have vetoed to appoint Deepinder Singh Patwalia as the Advocate General. Later, a few party leaders from Punjab complained that Patwalia’s family has BJP leanings. Gandhi then asked Channi to appoint someone else, sources privy to the development said. The government is now planning to appoint Anmol Rattan Singh Sidhu as the next AG. The formal order is, however, awaited. Navjot Singh Sidhu and former DGP Mohd Mustafa were backing Patwalia but the appointment could not come through.