Amarinder is the Captain for 2022 Punjab polls: Rawat

Amarinder is the Captain for 2022 Punjab polls: Congress

The remarks are being seen as a snub to the dissenters and a clear signal that the party wants the state Congress to put up a united front in the state polls

 Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh. Credit: AFP File Photo

The Congress crisis in the Punjab unit is back to square one a month after the party high command named Navjot Singh Sidhu as PCC chief and Captain Amarinder Singh as the party's face for 2022 Assembly polls to broker peace between the warring factions.

With the Sidhu camp stoking a fresh rebellion against Singh and seeking his immediate replacement, a rattled party high command asserted to the dissenting leaders that as far 2022 Assembly polls in Punjab is concerned, Amarinder Singh will remain the face.

"We will contest 2022 Punjab elections under the leadership of Captain Amrinder Singh," was the categorical response of AICC in-charge for Punjab Harish Rawat. 

In the midst of the banner of revolt by around 30 MLAs against Singh, Rawat also asserted there is "no threat to the Amarinder Singh-led government in Punjab" and the party's victory prospects for the upcoming Assembly elections.

The remarks are being seen as a snub to the dissenters and a clear signal that the party wants the state Congress to put up a united front in the state polls, which is just eight months away.

Rawat's remarks came after the four rebel Punjab ministers – Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Charanjit Singh Channi — who led the move — had a meeting with him in Dehradun. They are also trying to meet Sonia Gandhi in Delhi.

Read | 34 MLAs of Punjab Congress want Amarinder out: Report

Hitting out at Sidhu, the Chief Minister's wife and Lok Sabha MP MP Preneet Kaur blamed him for the current crisis a day after four ministers of Punjab government and around two dozen MLAs sought replacement of the chief minister, saying they have “lost faith in him” and accused him of not fulfilling poll promises.

Slamming the disgruntled leaders over seeking the CM's removal, Kaur held Sidhu responsible for the current situation in the party's state unit and reminded how Captain had shown “largeness of heart” in accepting the party high command's decision of appointing the former as PPCC chief.

“Once the decision had been taken by the high command, the CM said he would abide by it as the Congress president's decision," Kaur recalled as she talked at length about how Captain led Congress to victory in Punjab and the state on the path of development and battled Covid-19. 

She also asked the party high command to take note of the fact “for four-and-half-years, it was ok" and "see what is actually going on on the ground and do what is best for the party.”

“First ask them if they were happy during the last four-and-a-half years. This is not the time to say such is damaging the party," she said when asked about the dissenters' dissatisfaction with the government's performance.

She was addressing the media persons a day after the Punjab chief minister faced an open revolt with the four ministers and around two dozen legislators meeting at the residence of his known detractor Bajwa on Tuesday and calling for "drastic" steps including a change of guard in the state.

Also Read | Punjab CM warns Sidhu's advisers against assertions that do 'more damage to India's interests'

Asked whether she holds Sidhu responsible for the current situation, she said, “Of course he is. He is the one who started (with) his advisers.”

On Sunday, the Chief Minister had slammed the purported remarks of Pyare Lal Garg that Captain's criticism of Pakistan was not in the interest of Punjab and that of Malwinder Singh Mali who said if Kashmir was a part of India, then what was the need to have Articles 370 and 35A. Both Garg and Mali are advisers of Sidhu. Singh had told them that tersely not to speak on matters "of which they clearly had little or no knowledge and had no understanding of the implications of their comments".

A day after he was asked by Captain to rein in his advisers, Sidhu on Monday hit out at the party-ruled government over prices of crops saying assured prices in Punjab are too low as compared to Haryana/UP /Uttarakhand (all three BJP-ruled states).

On Tuesday, the rebellion broke out with the demand of the Chief Minister's ouster. Bajwa, Channi, Randhawa and some MLAs had on Tuesday also met Sidhu.

The Congress high command, which feels that Captain is still the best bait for the party in 2022 polls, has not taken kindly to this open rebellion and is in a mood to consider the demand for "immediate change" there.

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