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  • The meeting came amid indications that Navjot Singh Sidhu who has been having a running battle with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh could be made the party's state unit chief.

Chandigarh:  Rejecting all opposition to his elevation, Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi on Sunday appointed Navjot Singh Sidhu as the party's new Punjab unit President along with four Working Presidents.

Sangat Singh Gilzian, Sukhvinder Singh Danny, Pawan Goel, and Kuljit Singh Nagra have been appointed Working Presidents.

While Sidhu's name was opposed by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh who wrote a letter to the Congress President, but on Saturday, party's state in charge Harish Rawat flew to Chandigarh to pacify the sulking CM.

After the meeting, Amarinder Singh reiterated that any decision of the party chief would be acceptable but said he raised certain issues which Rawat said he would take up with her.

Earlier today, 11 MLAs came out in support of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh whom they called the "tallest leader of masses" and appealed to the party high command not to let him down.

Meanwhile, nine out of 11 Congress MPs from the state met at the residence of Partap Singh Bajwa and discussed the current political situation.

The meeting came amid indications that Navjot Singh Sidhu who has been having a running battle with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh could be made the party's state unit chief.

The MPs, however, said the meeting was convened to discuss the issues to be raised in the Monsoon Session of Parliament starting Monday.

Bajwa said he was not in the race for any position in the party.

"Any decision taken by party president Sonia Gandhi will be acceptable to all," Bajwa told reporters when asked about the appointment of a new Pradesh Congress Committee chief.

"There are no differences within the Congress and issues are raised in any active party. The Congress will win the next assembly elections," he said.

He said any internal matter would be discussed within the organisation and not in the media.

He said the meeting of MPs was convened in view of the Parliament session and to discuss the issues to be raised.

Amid the possibility of Sidhu's elevation, 11 MLAs on Sunday came out in support of Chief Minister Singh whom they called the "tallest leader of masses" and appealed to the party high command not to let him down.

Cricketer-turned-politician Sidhu, in the meantime, has stepped up his efforts and reached out to more party leaders and legislators for their support.

Meanwhile, Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar, who is likely to lose his job in the revamp of the state unit, has called a meeting of party legislators and district unit presidents on Monday in Chandigarh to pass a resolution expressing support to any decision taken by Sonia Gandhi.

There have been a series of meetings in Chandigarh and elsewhere in Punjab, held by Singh and Sidhu separately, to work out last minute strategies ahead of the party revamp.

Singh has set some conditions before the party leadership for Sidhu's elevation as the state unit chief, which include Sidhu tendering a public apology for the attacks made against him.

Bajwa said there was no factionalism in the Punjab Congress and the high command has said that the elections would be fought under the leadership of the chief minister.

He said whoever the new PCC chief is, he will complement the chief minister to ensure the victory of the Congress party in the upcoming assembly elections in Punjab.

Bajwa has also thrown his hat in the ring, and he has held a series of meetings. These include one with the chief minister last evening, and some in the party are saying that if a Jat Sikh is to be made the PCC chief, then why not Bajwa, who has been a former president of Punjab Congress.

Lok Sabha member Manish Tewari tweeted a picture of the party MPs during the meeting and said Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members from Punjab met to discuss the situation and issues of Punjab.

"All Congress MPs from Punjab discussed the party's strategy in the Monsoon session in raising issues like farmers' protest, delay in vaccinations and GST compensation and other issues related to the state," Tewari told reporters.

"We will raise our anger in Parliament over farmers issue and the step-motherly treatment meted out towards Punjab. We have decided to move adjournment motions on farmers' issues in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha," he said.

On Sidhu, he said it is an internal matter and will be discussed within the organisation at various party platforms.

The party MPs present at the meeting at Bajwa's residence were Preneet Kaur, Shamsher Singh Dullo, Ravneet singh Bittu, Gurjit Singh Aujla, Jasbir Singh Gill, Chaudhary Santokh singh and Mohammed Sadique, besides Tewari and Bajwa.

Rajya Sabha member Ambika soni could not attend the meeting due to health reasons while Lok Sabha member Amar Singh's flight got delayed, Tewari said.

Cricketer-turned-politician Sidhu, in the meantime, stepped up his efforts and reached out to more party leaders and legislators for their support.

In another development, Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar, who is likely to lose his job in the revamp of the state unit, has called a meeting of party legislators and district unit presidents on Monday to pass a resolution expressing support to any decision taken by party president Sonia Gandhi.

Jakhar's statement came amid suspense over the much-awaited announcement from the party high command on the resolution of festering internal feud in the Punjab Congress.

There are reports that Sidhu is likely to be appointed as the state Congress chief. There is also talk of appointing working presidents to balance the caste equations.

The possible changes have triggered a flurry of meetings in Delhi and Punjab. Nine out of 11 Congress MPs from the state met at the residence of Partap Singh Bajwa in Delhi on Sunday and are learnt to have discussed the current political situation.

Ten legislators issued a joint statement in support of Amarinder Singh, saying he is the tallest leader of masses.

Seven Congress legislators and three rebel AAP MLAs who recently switched over to the ruling party also said Sidhu was a celebrity and no doubt an asset to the party, but added that his open criticism of the party and the government has only created a rift among cadre and weakened the organisation.

The joint statement was issued by Congress leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira.

The seven party legislators in the group are Kuldeep Singh Vaid, Fatehjang Bajwa, Gurpreet Singh GP, Santokh Singh, Balwinder Singh Ladi, Joginderpal and Harminder Singh Gill.

Besides Khaira, two rebel AAP legislators in the group are Jagdev Singh Kamalu and Pirmal Singh Khalsa. Three of them had switched over to the Congress in June.

In the statement, the legislators urged the party high command not to let down Amarinder Singh, saying because of his unrelenting efforts the party stands well entrenched in Punjab.

They said that while the appointment of a state unit chief was the prerogative of the party high command, washing dirty linen in public has only decreased the party's graph during the last couple of months.

They said that Amarinder Singh commanded immense respect across different sections of the society, particularly the farmers.

The MLAs said since merely six months were left for the elections, pulling the party into the different directions will only harm its prospects in the 2022 polls.

Another Congress legislator, Navtej Singh Cheema, said it was not possible to form the next government without Amarinder Singh.

"I do not think there is any leader of such a stature, said Cheema while appealing to the high command to resolve the issue at the earliest.

Sidhu, who has been at loggerheads with Singh, on Sunday met party MLAs in Patiala, Khanna and Jalandhar where he received a warm welcome.

He first met Ghanaur legislator Madan Lal Jalalpur at his residence. Cabinet minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, MLAs Barindermeet Singh Pahra and Darshan Brar were also present at Jalalpur's residence.

Sidhu also met MLA Nirmal Singh from Shutrana constituency.

Later, he met Khanna legislator Gurkirat Singh Kotli and Payal MLA Lakhvir Singh Lakha.

Talking to reporters, Kotli said, Whatever decision the party high command takes, we as soldier of the party will accept it.

To a question on Sidhu, Kotli called the cricketer-turned-politician a charismatic leader and said there is a great enthusiasm among people towards him.

Sidhu then went to Jalandhar to meet senior party leader Avtar Henry, MLAs Pargat Singh, Sangat Singh Gilzian, and Avtar Singh Junior.

In a statement, incumbent president Jakhar said that at Monday's meeting, all the MLAs and district presidents would pass a resolution that whatever decision the party high command takes regarding Punjab would be acceptable to the entire state unit.

This resolution will then be sent to Sonia Gandhi, said Jakhar.

The decision to call a meeting by Jakhar was opposed by Congress leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira who said the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) had already been dissolved.

In 2020, Congress president Sonia Gandhi had dissolved the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee and all district committees in the state. However, state unit president Sunil Jakhar remained in the post.

(With PTI Inputs)

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