Punjab Headed For Leadership Change? Key MLA Meet Today Amid Power Tussle

Last month, four ministers and around two dozen party legislators had raised a squadron of complaints against the Punjab Chief Minister and said that they had no faith in his ability to honour poll promises.

The 117-member Punjab assembly will vote early next year (File)

New Delhi:

There is fresh sparking in the Punjab unit of the Congress. Citing "representation from a large number of MLAs", the Congress, in a late night tweet, has called for a key meeting of its Punjab legislators today. The meeting could spell trouble for Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who has been the target of rebel leaders seeking his ouster.

It is learnt that the Chief Minister is meeting his loyalist MLAs at his residence in Mohali ahead of the big meet.

"The AICC has received a representation from a large number of MLAs from the Congress party, requesting to immediately convene a meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) of Punjab. Accordingly, a meeting of the CLP has been convened at 5 PM on September 18 at Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee office.

"AICC directs the PPCC to facilitate this meeting. All congress MLAs of Punjab are requested to kindly attend this meeting," Harish Rawat, Congress's Punjab in-charge, tweeted Friday night.

Mr Rawat also tagged Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu in his tweet.

Navjot Sidhu, who continues to take potshots at his Chief Minister, retweeted Harish Rawat, then tweeted, and repeated, that a meeting has been called.

"As per the AICC directive, Congress Legislature Party meeting has been convened at @INCPunjab PPCC Office, Chandigarh on 18 September 2021 (Saturday) 5 PM," said Mr Sidhu.

Harish Chaudhary and Ajay Maken will be the central observers for the Punjab meeting.

Last month, four ministers and around two dozen party legislators had raised a squadron of complaints against the Punjab Chief Minister and said that they had no faith in his ability to honour poll promises.

The Congress has been papering over the differences between the two top leaders in the state unit, telegraphing a message of unity and cooperation.

As recently as September 8, Mr Rawat, speaking to news agency ANI, said that the people assume party leaders in Punjab are fighting because the ''brave'' leaders put forward their opinion strongly.

"Punjab is the land of braves. People there put their opinion very strongly there and it looks like they will fight. But, there is nothing like that, and they find solutions to their problems. Punjab Congress is solving their issues themselves. We are not doing anything," the Congress leader said.

When asked about the relation between Amarinder Singh and Mr Sidhu, Mr Rawat said, "If there would be a dispute, it would be good for Congress."

The BJP, in a sharp contrast, has replaced four chief ministers in six months. Most recently Vijay Rupani quit as Gujarat Chief Minister a year ahead of polls.. His resignation follows that of BS Yediyurappa in Karnataka in July and a double blow in Uttarakhand, where Tirath Singh Rawat quit barely four months after replacing Trivendra Rawat.

Both Gujarat and Uttarakhand will vote for new governments next year.

Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu was declared the Punjab Congress chief in July after weeks of infighting and in face of strong opposition by Captain Amarinder Singh. He has been a vehement critic of the state government.

A little over a month after assuming the new role, Mr Sidhu keeps pulling up the government for not fulfilling the pre-poll promises.

The Congress, which has only a skinny group of states in its kitty, has been battling leadership issues in Punjab, which is quickly turning into a political sinkhole for the grand old party.

The 117-member Punjab assembly will vote early next year.