Congress to set up three-member coordination panel to resolve Punjab crisis

The decision was taken after an over two-hour long meet between Charanjit Singh Channi and Navjot Singh Sidhu during which it was also decided that the latter would continue in his post as Punjab Congress chief

Navjot Singh Sidhu leaves for Chandigarh to meet Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi, amid heavy rain, in Patiala. PTI

In a bid to resolve the ongoing crisis in the Punjab unit of the Congress, a coordination panel is likely to be set up, which is expected to be consulted before any major decisions by the Punjab government in the future, party sources said, according to a report in PTI.

The decision came after an over two-hour meeting at the Punjab Congress Bhavan between Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and Navjot Singh Sidhu, who had resigned from the post of the state party chief on Tuesday. It has been reported that Sidhu is likely to stay on as the Punjab Congress chief till the elections, which will be held early next year.

The three-member panel will most likely comprise of the chief minister, Navjot Singh Sidhu and a representative of the AICC, sources said as per a PTI report. While some state that All-India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in-charge of Punjab affairs Harish Rawat will be the third person, other report that it may be Harish Chaudhary who will be the third person in the panel.

The AICC is expected to make an announcement in this regard, the sources said.

However, it is still unclear how differences over the appointment of the DGP and the AG will be dealt with.

According to News18, as part of the truce plan, a panel of names will be sent to the UPSC for appointment of a new DGP.

Meanwhile, NDTV reported that Channi is ready to accommodate Sidhu and he may drop Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota as Punjab police chief.

Just before his meeting with Channi, Sidhu attacked the state’s new DGP, alleging that he wrongly indicted two Sikh youths in a desecration case and gave a clean chit to the Badals.

The desecration of a religious text allegedly took place in Punjab’s Faridkot district in 2015, whose investigation was handed over by the then Parkash Singh Badal-led government to an SIT led by current DGP Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota.

Sahota was given the additional charge of the state’s DGP by the Charanjit Singh Channi-led government.

Besides Channi and Sidhu, the meeting was attended by senior Congress leader and central observer Harish Chaudhary, minister Pargat Singh and Punjab Congress working president Kuljit Nagra, the sources said.

Minister Raj Kumar Verka, MLAs Inderbir Singh Bolaria, Avtar Singh Junior and PPCC working president Pawan Goel were in another room, they said.

There was no press briefing after the meeting between Sidhu and Channi.

Channi left the venue around 6 pm while Sidhu came out about half an hour later.

No party leader spoke to the media after the meeting concluded.

Earlier in the day, Sidhu reached Chandigarh from Patiala to meet Channi. The meeting came a day after Channi reached out to him and offered to resolve issues through talks.

The development in the Punjab Congress comes on a day when former chief minister Amarinder Singh was in Delhi and told NDTV he would quit the Congress, which he asserted was going downhill with senior leaders being ignored.

But Amarinder scotched speculation of his joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Former state party chief Sunil Jakhar also said there should be an end to attempts to undermine the authority of the Punjab chief minister time and again.

Jakhar said “aspersions” being cast on the selection of the state’s advocate general and state police head were actually “questioning the integrity of the CM”.

Jakhar was obliquely referring to Sidhu who had raised questions over the appointments of the director general of police and the state’s advocate general.

“Enough is enough. Put an end to attempts to undermine the authority of CM time and again. Aspersions being cast on the selection of AG & DGP is actually questioning the integrity/competence of CM and Home Minister to deliver results,” he said.

“It’s time to put the foot down and clear the air,” tweeted Jakhar.

With inputs from PTI

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