Punjab CM Amarinder Singh hosts lunch, Congress party unity on the menu


By Express News Service

CHANDIGARH/NEW DELHI: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh held a meeting over lunch with about 35 Hindu leaders from the party on Thursday. The meeting came amid murmurs of discontent among party leaders belonging to the community.

Leaders who participated in the meeting included MP Manish Tewari, Cabinet ministers Brahm Mohindra, O P Soni, Sunder Sham Arora, Vijay Inder Singla, Bharat Bhushan Ashu and Manpreet Singh Badal, besides MLA Raj Kumar Verka, ex-MLA Ashwani Sekhri, who was tipped to join Akali Dal a few days back. Manpreet and Lal Singh, chairman of Punjab Mandi Board, were the Sikh leaders present.

Sources said Amarinder held this meeting because only a few months are left before Assembly polls, amid talks that he has become inaccessible of late. After the meeting, Verka said: “The chief minister took advice from these leaders on what can be done to improve the urban areas. The urban development minister was present.”

All not well

Amid the ongoing crisis in the Congress, former Union minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said in Delhi that the tradition of debate and dialogue has ended in the party. “The Congress tradition of holding sessions on debates and dialogue has ended. I feel sad about it. Introspection meetings are required. Our policies may be wrong, but to correct them, such sessions are needed,” said the Congress leader.

He is the latest to join the group of leaders who have been demanding organisational changes in the party. His comments drew reaction from the Congress’s Maharashtra ally Shiv Sena, which has lately been upset after a  Congress leader said the party will contest the next state elections separately.

“If Mr Shinde is saying this, then there should be introspection,” said Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut. “He is one of Congress’s oldest soldiers who struggled a lot for the party. If he is expressing pain, then his party should give it some thought. We are outsiders, but we want the Congress party to stay,” said the Shiv Sena MP.

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