Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Thursday met his predecessor Captain Amarinder Singh at the latter’s Siswan farmhouse in Mohali. The meeting comes at a time when the Congress central leadership met Navjot Singh Sidhu in Delhi to convince him to reconsider his decision of resigning from the Punjab Congress president post. However, after the meeting, AICC general secretary Harish Rawat said Sidhu will continue as Punjab Congress chief.
This unscheduled meeting between Channi and Amarinder Singh has fueled rumors over a new political movement in the Punjab Congress. It was Channi’s first meeting with Amarinder Singh since he became the Chief Minister of Punjab. Channi visited Amarinder Singh’s farmhouse with his family to seek blessings for his newly married son and daughter-in-law.
The visit also comes on a day when Punjab cabinet minister Pargat Singh took a swipe at Amarinder Singh and claimed that he was hand in glove with the BJP for agreeing with the move of the Center on increasing the vigilance area of Punjab by the BSF.
Political observers have interpreted the visit as one more of Channi’s strategic moves to “endear” himself to all facts and consolidate his position at the top. “By ensuring that he visits with his family, Channi wanted to send out the message that he might have been a critic of the Amarinder Singh when Channi was his cabinet minister but when it comes to respecting the elders, party and politics was to be kept aside and give Captain the status of the head of the family,” commented a leader.
Sources close to Channi said that he wanted to visit Amarinder Singh earlier but the developments which arose in the Congress after his appointment as Punjab CM prevented him from doing so. “For the Chief Minister, this is the right kind of optics. On one hand, Sidhu has been taking subtle digs at seniors like Amarinder Singh, while on the other hand, Channi is showing magnanimity by giving due respect to seniors even if they are in opposing camps,” commented one of his aides.
After taking over as the Chief Minister, Channi had said that Amarinder Singh was like the head of the family and his guidance would be sought and that Amarinder Singh should continue to be in the Congress and support the functioning of the state government.
After Sidhu had quit over differences with Channi, the central leadership had called him to listen to his grievances. “Navjot Singh Sidhu, President, Punjab Congress, will be meeting me and (KC) Venugopal ji for discussion on certain organizational matters pertaining to Punjab Congress Committee at Venugopal ji’s office on October 14 at 6 pm,” AICC General Secretary and the party’s Harish Rawat, Punjab in-charge, had said.
Sidhu was not happy with the first cabinet expansion, allocation of portfolios, and appointments on crucial posts, including the Advocate General and the DGP, by the Chief Minister.
The Congress wants to put its house in order ahead of crucial Punjab assembly polls and despite the removal of Amarinder Singh there has been no resolution of the issues.