Will Punjab CM Amrinder Singh step down today? Key meet of Cong MLAs convened

Navjot Singh Sidhu takes over as Punjab Congress chief
Navjot Singh Sidhu meets Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh before taking charge as Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee President, in Chandigarh, Friday, July 23, 2021. PTI

New Delhi: Over 50 Congress legislators from Punjab have written to party chief Sonia Gandhi seeking that Amarinder Singh be replaced as chief minister, highly placed party sources said on Saturday ahead of a crucial meeting of the Congress Legislative Party in Chandigarh.

As crisis intensifies once again in the Punjab unit of the party – riven by differences between the chief minister and PCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu – Amarinder Singh is also learnt to have talked to Gandhi and expressed his anguish over his repeated "humiliation". There was no official confirmation about the chief minister calling Gandhi.

Amarinder Singh is learnt to be meeting MLAs close to him in the afternoon at his official residence in Chandigarh.

Sources here said the current crisis is "serious" with so many MLAs seeking the chief minister's replacement just a few months ahead of assembly elections in the state.

AICC calls meeting

Amid the ongoing rift in the Punjab Congress unit, the AICC called a meeting of the state's Congress Legislative Party on Saturday.

All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary and in-charge of Punjab affairs Harish Rawat made the announcement Friday night.

The AICC has received a representation from a large number of MLAs from the Congress party, requesting to immediately convene a meeting of the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) of Punjab. Accordingly, a meeting of the CLP has been convened at 5am on September 18 at Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee office.

AICC directs the PPCC to facilitate this meeting. All congress MLAs of Punjab are requested to kindly attend this meeting, Rawat said in a tweet.

He also tagged Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu in his tweet.

The move to call the meeting after bypassing the chief minister has raised speculations in party circles about the fate of Singh.

If the MLAs insist on their demand, the change in leadership might happen at the CLP meeting itself, according to sources.

Amarinder Singh's bete-noire and PCC president Sidhu, who is eyeing the chief minister's post, however, is unlikely to be a probable choice for the chief minister's replacement, the sources pointed out. Former Punjab unit chief Sunil Jakhar may be considered a probable, they said. Jakhar, who is not an MLA, is believed to be close the top leadership and is considered a prominent Hindu face of the party.

Trouble between the two factions has been brewing for long and Amarinder Singh was strongly opposed to Sidhu's appointment as PCC chief.

Sidhu has been at loggerheads with Amarinder Singh ever since he quit the Punjab cabinet as a minister in 2019. He had become more vocal in his views in the recent months.

Last month, four ministers and around two dozen party legislators had raised the banner of revolt against the Punjab CM and said they had no faith in Amarinder Singh's ability to honour unfulfilled promises.  

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