The delicacies served by the Congress high command during the unity lunch in New Delhi on October 15 seem to have whetted the appetite of warring Punjab Congress leaders for more.
Within 10 days of the Delhi luncheon, hosted by general secretary in-charge of Punjab Shakeel Ahmad to broker peace between state party chief Partap Singh Bajwa and his predecessor Capt Amarinder after a public spat between the two at the Sangrur rally, some senior leaders have been summoned for another unity lunch on Saturday, this time to forge peace between Bajwa and Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar.
Calling off the parallel meet called by Bajwa on Saturday to decide the strategy and issues for the upcoming state assembly session - ahead of the October 28 CLP meet called by Jakhar - secretary in-charge for Punjab Harish Chaudhary on Friday asked some senior MLAs to reach the Islamic Centre on the Lodhi Road, Delhi, at 1pm. Interestingly, in a face-saving exercise for Bajwa, Chaudhary told MLAs that only the venue of the meeting had been shifted from Chandigarh to Delhi.
Though the agenda for the Delhi meeting is to decide the issues and strategy for the House session beginning on October 28, party sources say it is aimed at building consensus on not raking up the controversy over chief parliamentary secretary NK Sharma's realty business, an issue raised by PPCC spokesman Sukhpal Khaira. Sharma, in his counter-offensive, had also spoken about the real-estate deals of the Bajwa brothers (Partap and Fateh Jung).
Fresh fissures between Bajwa and Jakhar have surfaced after the former mailed an invite to some 'senior' party MLAs on Thursday, inviting them for a meeting on Saturday at the Congress Bhawan in Chandigarh. The move had ruffled the feathers of Jakhar, who had told reporters on Wednesday that the CLP meeting would be held on October 28, the first day of the House session. By precedent, holding the meeting of MLAs before the session to decide the strategy and issues is the prerogative of the CLP leader. The announcement of parallel shows led to hectic political activity, resulting in the high command deciding to intervene.
Jakhar, who had learnt about the October 26 meeting through a mail the same day, expressed ignorance about the reasons for the "change of venue". Avoiding a direct comment on Bajwa, he said, "The entire issue could have been handled in a better manner."
Those on the list of invitees for Saturday's unity lunch are MLAs Capt Amarinder Singh, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Ashwani Sekhri, Brahm Mohindra, Lal Singh, Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Rakesh Pandey, Tripat Rajinder Bajwa, Jagmohan Kang, Amrik Singh and state Congress vice-presidents Charanjit Channi, Gurpreet Kangar, OP Soni and Tarlochan Singh.