New Delhi, Sep 16 (IANS) In an organisational reshuffle, former Uttarakhand Chief Minister and Congress General Secretary Harish Rawat has been appointed as the In-charge of the party’s Punjab unit. After taking over the new role, he has met Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and dissenting MPs including Partap Singh Bajwa.
Speaking to IANS, he said Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu is an asset to the party. The statement assumes significance as the Chief Minister is currently not on the best of terms with the former Team India cricketer .
Q: You have met the Punjab Chief Minister. What was discussed between you and him, after taking over as In-charge of the state?
A: We have discussed the issue of organisation and the manifesto implementation done by the state government and what has been left and how it will be done. All these issues were discussed in detail. We also discussed the current pandemic situation due to Covid-19, and the challenges before the state government to deal with the situation. We also held talks on the Central government’s ill treatment of the state and non-payment of GST. Following this meeting, the Chief Minister and the state Congress chief have presented a memorandum to the Governor in which the issue of farmers and the Agri Bill which has been lying pending to be passed in Parliament were raised.
Q: Punjab is a challenging state… There are three groups within the state; one is of the Chief Minister, other is of Partap Singh Bajwa, the former PCC president, and Navjot Singh Sidhu. How will you manage them?
A: We are a democratic party. Captain (Punjab CM) is our tallest leader in the state but all these individuals are strong pillars of the party. Navjot Singh Sidhu is an asset for the party, not just in Punjab but in the whole country. If there is any lack of coordination, I will sit and ensure there is a proper coordination between the party and the government. That’s the job of a party In-charge.
Q: You are an old political hand but the situation and the state is different… as the leaders of the party are demanding removal of the Chief Minister…
A: There is no such issue in the party… As to the question of differences, everyone would be taken on board to discuss the differences and resolve them.
Q: During the campaign for elections, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi said that the drug cartel will be finished and now there is a sense in the party that these cartels are being protected from inside the party… such as the hooch tragedy…
A: The Chief Minister is very serious on this issue and those who are responsible will not be spared… whether they are from the party or from the outside. And from what I understand, there is nobody from the party but whoever is responsible will be punished as they are enemies of the society and our government will work against these people.
Q: Will you be holding any meeting with party leaders such as Navjot Sidhu, Bajwa and others?
A: I have met Captain, and Bajwa in Delhi. I am looking forward to meeting more people in the coming days… and you will see everybody will be working along. I will be visiting the state next week.
Q: Ahead of the organisational reshuffle there has been a “letter controversy”. Your comments?
A: These are internal affairs of the party and there has been a long discussion in the working committee. There is now a central election authority which will conduct elections in the party.
Q: Do you wish Rahul Gandhi to take over as party president?
A: Rahul Gandhi has been at the forefront in exposing the government and the party believes that he should take over the leadership. Though he is not the party president officially, he is the driving force against the government, and the face of the Opposition. He is asking the Narendra Modi-led government tough questions, and also has the capability to fight for the party.
Q: You have become the In-charge of Punjab. What about Uttarakhand?
A: Everybody has his heart in his motherland but the responsibilities which I have been given by the party are also important and I will fulfil them.
(Syed Moziz Imam can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)