Panel to bridge party-government gap to defuse crisis

By Express News Service

CHANDIGARH:  A coordination committee comprising the Punjab unit of the Congress, the state government and the AICC is expected to be set up to resolve the crisis triggered by the shock resignation of Navjot Singh Sidhu as state unit chief following his differences with Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi.

This was decided during the two-hour meeting between Sidhu and Channi on Thursday. According to sources, the panel will meet every week to ensure smooth functioning of the government and its decisions will be unanimous. Channi, Sidhu and AICC general-secretary and Punjab in-charge Harish Rawat will be its members. 

A similar panel was formed when Amarinder Singh was the chief minister to coordinate with the state unit of the Congress but it never met. Thursday’s meeting, however, did not break the deadlock as Sidhu refused to withdraw his resignation despite appeal from Congress leaders. 

Sidhu drove down from Patiala to the Punjab Bhawan here to meet Channi, who was tasked by the party high command to negotiate with him. During the meeting, Sidhu questioned the selection of APS Deol as Advocate-General, Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota as DGP, besides certain ‘tainted leaders’ in the cabinet, especially Rana Gurjit Singh, who had resigned from the Amarinder Singh cabinet in 2018 following corruption allegations.  

According to sources, Sidhu demanded during the meeting that both Deol and Sahota be changed. To this, Channi clarifed that Sahota was only given additional charge of DGP and that a panel of names of officers would be sent to the UPSC for short-listing the new DGP. As for the A-G, a team of a special prosecutor and 10 lawyers would be set up. This team will work under the special prosecutor and handle all important cases of the state government, Sidhu was told. 

‘CWC meet soon’Congress leader Randeep Surjewala on Thursday said that a meeting of the Congress Working Committee will be called soon as sought by 23 senior leaders