Sonia Gandhi to decide Punjab matter by July 8-10: Harish Rawat

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 23

Congress president Sonia Gandhi will decide on the Punjab Government and party revitalization by July 8-10, AICC general secretary in-charge of the state Harish Rawat said on Wednesday after meeting Rahul Gandhi in the National Capital.

Rawat said the AICC panel formed by Sonia Gandhi in Punjab held detailed discussions with Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh yesterday on the progress of 18 major party manifesto promises and set deadlines for him to deliver on pending pledges, including Bargari and drug rackets within the perimeters of the law.

Rawat also said that the panel has already submitted a report to the Congress chief on the structural, organizational and political issues related to Punjab and her decision on the matter will come by July 8 to 10.

Commenting on the meeting with Capt Amarinder, Rawat also said that the panel had asked the Chief Minister to take action against the sand and transport mafia, besides ensuring free 200 units of power per urban households in the state.

“A lot of promises were made in our manifesto. Many promises have been fulfilled. We discussed all that with the Chief Minister. The AICC has given clear deadlines on certain issues and asked for time bound implementation. For instance, Bargari is an emotional issue in Punjab, and we respect the sentiments of people. So, we have told the Chief Minister to find a solution to it within the perimeters of public sentiment and law. After all, everything has to be lawful,” Rawat said.

He added that on the drug issue, the state government had acted against some mafia and some will soon be acted on. “Power is a big issue. Urban Punjab has of being disregarded in the matter. The AICC has instructed the Chief Minister to ensure free 200 units of power per urban household. We have also sought action on delivery of SC scholarships, and loan waivers for the poor and Dalits, besides regularisation of land encroached by them,” Rawat said.

He said the Congress manifesto had assured 100 per cent action against the sand mafia and the Chief Minister had said he would get the matter examined legally to take control of the sector. “The government has taken steps to weaken the transport mafia and more steps are in the pipeline,” said Rawat, adding that the Chief Minister will soon make important declarations on these issues to the media in Chandigarh.

To media questions about former minister Navjot Singh Sidhu’s public statements against the Chief Minister, Rawat said, “We have taken note of these statements. I have called for the statements by Sidhu, will examine them. Where I feel I need to advise him, I will advise him. That is the work of the general secretary. So far, everyone in Punjab has heed my advice.”

On Sidhu’s public remarks, Rawat added the former minister had also noted that he would abide by the decisions of the high command.

Asked about the Punjab Congress face for 2022 state elections, Rawat said, “We will discuss that matter when the time comes.”

He also said the party will call Sidhu for discussions soon.

Earlier today, state Congress chief Sunil Jakhar, Finance Minister Manpreet Badal, MPs Ravneet Bittu and Partap Bajwa also met Rahul Gandhi.

Jakhar later said he was hopeful of an early resolution of the Punjab issue, given the level of seriousness with which Rahul Gandhi is viewing the matter.

”We discussed ways of strengthening the party and resolving differences of opinion between leaders. The seriousness with which Rahul is watching the issue, I am confident of an early solution. The Congress will politically revive from Punjab,” said Jakhar, adding that compensatory job to kin of MLAs was wrong and could not be defended.

“Some so-called advisers have landed the CM’s office in a spot. What is wrong cannot be called a right,” the state chief added on the issue of jobs to sons of MLAs in the state.

Bajwa, meanwhile, said MLAs and ministers who want to fight elections in Punjab have discussed with the leadership the ways to get reelected.

“We spoke about the current political situation of Punjab, where we stand electorally, what are the expectations of the people from us,” said Bajwa.

On who would be the party’s face in 2022, Bajwa said that is for the leadership to decide.

“I have told Rahul about my assessment and about how genuine the grievances of some leaders are. We held threadbare discussions on every issue and I suggested my solution on how to win the state,” Bajwa said, adding that he was expecting a solution in a week.

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