Sonia Gandhi dissolves Punjab Congress Committee, Sunil Jakhar stays state unit chief
Amid growing murmurs of discontent in a section of the party, the Congress on Tuesday set up an 11-member committee in Punjab to improve coordination between the party and the state government.
The committee constituted by Congress president Sonia Gandhi with AICC in-charge for Punjab Asha Kumari as its chairperson will have chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, state unit president Sunil Jakhar and All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Ambika Soni as members.
It will also have technical education minister Charanjit Singh Channi, industries minister Sunder Sham Arora, school education minister Vijay Inder Singla, jails minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, AICC secretaries Kuljit Singh Nagra and Gurkirat Singh Kotli and Sandeep Singh Sandhu as its members.
The coordination panel was announced just hours after the Congress president dissolved the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee and all district committees in the state with immediate effect, retaining Jakhar as the state unit president.
The Congress president has dissolved the office-bearers and executive committee of Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) and District Congress Committees (DCCs) of Punjab with immediate effect, said a party release. Asha Kumari said these steps are directionally aimed towards strengthening the party structure and fixing accountability in both the state unit and the government.
Another senior leader said the PCC reconstitution was imminent to ensure accountability of officer-bearers and infuse fresh blood in the party but it could not be done due to a series of elections and byelections. “When Jakhar became the state Congress chief, he continued with the same setup. As many office-bearers have become ministers, or are holding other positions, there are not many to organise the party programmes,” said a Congress functionary.
However, the omission of former minister Navjot Singh Sidhu’s name from any of the panels was a talking point in the party circles.
The decisions announced a day after Amarinder, Asha Kumari and Jakhar met the Congress president have come at a time when discontent has been brewing in the ruling party over the handling of the Bargari sacrilege cases and the dominance of bureaucracy in the government. Amarinder met all legislators in groups last week in Chandigarh to hear their grievances and allocate funds for their constituencies but then Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa went on the offensive over the chief minister’s style of functioning and the performance of advocate general Atul Nanda. Amarinder has taken up Bajwa’s continued outbursts against him during his meeting with the Congress president on Monday.
Earlier, Jakhar had also raised questions over the efficiency of the AG’s office and sought a review of its performance in the past three years. The party had set up similar coordination committees, along with manifesto implementation panels in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Puducherry where it is in power on Monday. The manifesto panel for Punjab is headed by P Chidambaram.