Chief Minister Amarinder Singh met senior Congress leaders from Punjab’s urban areas over lunch Thursday, amid speculation that the party’s state unit is set for a revamp. “Had a fruitful discussion with senior Congress colleagues from urban areas of Punjab. We have taken their feedback to strengthen the party at the grassroots level,” Singh tweeted after the meeting at his official residence here.
The meeting comes soon after former Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who has been openly targeting Amarinder Singh, met party leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in Delhi. There is speculation that the cricketer-turned-politician may again be given a prominent role in the party or the government in Punjab. The leaders invited to the CM’s lunch represented Punjab’s urban areas and were mostly Hindus, amid talk that the Congress needed to be more representative in Punjab as it prepares for next year’s Assembly polls. Amarinder Singh has been increasingly under attack by Sidhu and a section of party leaders over the 2015 desecration of Sikh scriptures and other issues.
Among those who took part in the meeting were state cabinet ministers Brahm Mohindra, Vijay Inder Singla, O P Soni, Rana Gurmit Sodhi and Bharat Bhushan Ashu. MPs Manish Tewari and Gurjit Singh Aujla and MLA Raj Kumar Verka, and several district-level leaders participated. Minister Vijay Inder Singla described the meeting as interactive. MLA Raj Kumar Verka said it was called to discuss urban issues. He said the CM directed the departments concerned to resolve issues related to urban areas raised during the meeting. Former Batala MLA Ashwani Sekhri, who had indicated last week that he could join the Akali Dal, also attended the meeting. Verka said Sekhri’s concerns have been addressed. The three-time MLA had decided against leaving the Congress after speaking with the CM and other party leaders on June 27. He had been unhappy over the alleged interference of cabinet minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa in the Batala assembly constituency.