Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh held a show of strength on Thursday by inviting 55 lawmakers and seven MPs to dinner, sending a message to his rival camp in the factional fight that threatens to derail the Congress in the poll-bound state. The meeting came a day after multiple Punjab Congress leaders showed resentment over the decision of the CM leading the party in the upcoming Assembly polls.
The dinner was hosted by Singh’s confidante, sports and youth affairs minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, at his official residence in Chandigarh. At least 55 of the party’s 80 lawmakers and ministers and seven of 11 MPs attended the event, said the people quoted above. “We invited like-minded MLAs and MPs. All those who were invited turned up and reaffirmed their faith in the chief minister’s leadership. We will win the 2022 assembly elections under him,” Sodhi told. Captain Amarinder Singh, who was facing opposition from the state party leaders, plans to win back the MLAs by hosting talks with them. The dinner meeting was held on Thursday as part of the efforts to secure support for the upcoming assembly polls. Singh’s rival, Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu, and lawmakers close to him weren’t present. The dinner came hours after three ministers close to Sidhu — rural development and panchayats minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, jails and cooperation minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and water resources minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria — skipped the virtual meeting of the state council of ministers.
Meanwhile, AICC general secretary Harish Rawat on Wednesday said the next year’s Punjab Assembly polls will be fought under the leadership of CM Amarinder Singh as four state ministers wanting the “ouster” of the chief minister met the Congress leader in Dehradun.