Harish Rawat on U'khand CM Face Issue

Harish Rawat Amid Reports of Full-blown Crisis in Party’s Punjab Unit

AICC general secretary and Punjab Congress in-charge Harish Rawat on Friday debunked the reports claiming of an ongoing adverse situation in the grand-old party. Rawat, who met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in Delhi, said all leaders in the Congress have rights to express their views but the final decision will be taken by the party president.

“First of all, there are no adverse situation in the party. We expect that all will understand each other. Everyone has right to express but final decision to be taken by party President. I have communicated the views of Punjab MLAs and now the party has to decide,” said Rawat after meeting Gandhi in the national capital.

Earlier in the day, Rawat wrote to Congress high-command and sought to be relieved as the in-charge of party affairs in Punjab, citing next year’s assembly polls in Uttarakhand where he is the Congress’ campaign committee chairman.

“Yes, this is the reason,” the former Uttarakhand chief minister told reporters in Dehradun on Thursday when asked if he has sought to be relieved of the charge as Punjab affairs in-charge so that he could concentrate on the upcoming polls in his state. He added that he would abide by whatever direction is given to him by the party.

“If my party asks me to continue (as Punjab affairs in-charge), I will continue, said Rawat. Punjab and Uttarakhand will go to polls next year.

Rawat’s request has come amid a reported crisis in Punjab Congress, with over two dozen MLAs and ministers seeking removal of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh. According to a report in The Indian Express, Shortly before Rawat reached the national capital, a delegation of five rebel Punjab Congress leaders including four ministers and an MLA returned from there after a failed attempt to meet AICC chief Sonia Gandhi.

While the Congress is seeking to retain power in Punjab, it aims to return to power by defeating the ruling BJP in the hill state. Punjab is witnessing an infight between the camps of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu.

Rawat had recently said next year’s Punjab Assembly polls will be fought under the leadership of Amarinder Singh, delivering a snub to the leaders wanting his removal. Rawat had also said that there was no threat to the Amarinder Singh-led government in Punjab.

Reacting to Sidhu’s statement urging the party high command to allow him the freedom to take decisions, Rawat said party chiefs are free to take their decisions within the party’s norms and constitution. “I will see the context in which Navjot Singh Sidhu has made these remarks. Mr Sidhu is the respected chief of the Punjab unit. Who will have the power to take decisions if not the state presidents,” he told reporters in Delhi on Friday.

Rawat added state presidents are free to take decisions within the party’s constitution and position. Sidhu had said earlier that the party high command should give him the freedom to take decisions and he will ensure that the Congress remains in power for the next 20 years. He said he has prepared a roadmap in this regard. “The party high command should allow me the freedom to take decisions, else I will give a befitting reply,” Sidhu said addressing a meeting in Amritsar.

(with inputs from PTI)

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