Congress Begins Damage Control As Punjab Crisis Worsens, Harish Rawat Speaks to Warring Factions

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With the crisis in the Punjab Congress threatening to spin out of control, the party high command has started reaching out to warring factions within the state unit to calm down tempers even as senior functionaries continued to spar over reports of intimidation of some lawmakers by the Amarinder Singh government.

Sources said that with cracks beginning to widen with the party over the Kotkapura SIT issue, the party’s state observer, Harish Rawat, has spoken to some MLAs who had expressed their anger over the handling of the SIT probe by the Punjab government. The party high command is reportedly upset over the open mudslinging by some leaders which had precipitated a crisis ahead of the Assembly polls next year.

“The observer has been in touch with the state unit leaders and has urged all sides to stay away from open criticism of each other and avoid an uncomfortable situation for the party leadership,” a source said.

Congress’ Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa said it was unfortunate that investigations are being initiated against those raising a voice. “Every leader has a reason to be concerned. Everybody thinks of good for the party and if they are concerned and speaking out, it is highly regrettable that probes are being initiated against them,” Bajwa said. The MP said that unlike some other leaders, he had spoken to Rawat and urged him to intervene so that the concerned leaders are able to raise some of the issues they think would harm the prospects of the party in the upcoming assembly elections.

Even as the party high command initiated efforts to reach out to all stakeholders, Navjot Singh Sidhu continued targeting the Punjab government. The cricketer-turned-politician on Tuesday wrote on Twitter, “Ministers, MLAs & MPs raising people’s issues are strengthening the party, fulfilling their democratic duty & exercising their constitutional right… But everyone who speaks the truth becomes your enemy. Thus, you threaten your party colleagues, exhibiting your fear & insecurity.”

While Sidhu has been very vocal and consistent in his charges against the CM, the others who have joined the chorus include Cabinet minister Charanjit Singh Channi and Jalandhar Cant MLA Pargat Singh. The MLA has alleged Sandeep Sandhu, political secretary to the chief minister, of threatening him with a police case for raising his voice against the CM on the issue of sacrilege and police firing.

A set of disgruntled Congress leaders, including a few MPs, have been meeting at the residence of these leaders leading to the intervention of central leaders. Rawat has reportedly assured the leaders of taking up the matter and hearing voices of dissent.

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