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3-member Panel to Meet Party Legislators, Leaders from Next Week



A three-member committee formed to resolve the infighting in the Punjab Congress will start meeting party MLAs, ministers and members of Parliament from next week. The panel was formed after a section of Congress leaders expressed discontent over the handling of the 2015 sacrilege issue and had held meetings to exert pressure on Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for early action against the perpetrators.

The Congress had in the run-up to the 2017 assembly polls, promised to take strict action against those involved in the desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib and subsequent police firing incidents in 2015 in Kotkapura in Faridkot. The decision to meet Congress MLAs, MPs and leaders in Punjab from next week was taken by the committee, led by Rajya Sabha member Mallikarjun Kharge, in a meeting in Delhi on Saturday.

The other two members of the panel are All India Congress Committee general secretary in-charge of Punjab Affairs Harish Rawat and former MP J P Aggarwal. The committee was constituted by Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the wake of a rift in the party’s Punjab unit.

“We will start meeting all MLAs, ministers, MPs, among others from next week in Delhi,” said Rawat, adding that it will be one-to-one meetings. The panel has also been asked to draw a strategy for strengthening the party for the 2022 assembly polls.

The committee will first meet Punjab Congress president (Sunil Jakhar) on May 31, Rawat said. To a question, he said, “We will talk to everyone, including Captain sahib (Chief Minister Amarinder Singh) and Navjot Sidhu.” Amritsar East legislator Navjot Singh Sidhu had been critical of the chief minister after the Punjab and Haryana High Court last month quashed a probe into the 2015 Kotkapura firing case.

The former minister had repeatedly attacked Amarinder Singh over the alleged delay in justice in the 2015 sacrilege issue and subsequent police firing incidents. Singh had slammed Sidhu for continuously attacking him over the sacrilege incident issue, calling the Congress leader’s outbursts “total indiscipline”.

Seven ministers had earlier sought suspension of the cricketer-turned-politician for attacking the Punjab chief minister.

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