Amid reports that former Batala MLA Ashwani Sekhri may quit the Congress, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday said the senior leader and former minister will stay in the party and there is no question of him leaving. Singh said he spoke to Sekhri on Sunday and assured him that all his concerns will be addressed. In a statement issued by the Punjab Congress, the chief minister said that Sekhri was a “dyed in wool Congressman” who had spent his whole life with the party and all rumours about his leaving the party were baseless.
Sekhri, a three-time legislator from Batala, has been unhappy over the alleged interference of cabinet minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa in the Batala assembly constituency. There were some media reports that Sekhri may join opposition Shiromani Akali Dal after quitting the Congress.
But Singh said that Sekhri had strongly denied the reports, which appeared in a section of the media, that he was leaving the party and joining some other party. Sekhri assured the chief minister that he was a committed and dedicated Congressman, who can never ever imagine of leaving the party. Singh, while clearing all his apprehensions, assured Sekhri that he was a very senior leader of the Congress who had contributed a lot to the party. It is the party’s duty and responsibility to watch and safeguard the interests of all senior leaders, he said.
Earlier, Congress legislator Raj Kumar Verka reached out to Sekhri and met him in Amritsar, and after the meeting claimed that he would continue to remain in the party. He told reporters that he visited the residence of Sekhri in Amritsar on the instructions of the Congress high command and Chief Minister Singh.
However, Sekhri stayed away from the media. Sekhri was one of the several Punjab Congress leaders who had met former party chief Rahul Gandhi in Delhi on June 23, amid factionalism in the state party unit.
“Ashwani Sekhri will remain in the Congress and will not leave the party, Verka said and added that the party high command has called the former MLA for a meeting. He said before meeting the party high command, Sekhri he will meet Chief Minister Singh. Verka said All India Congress general secretary and the party’s Punjab affairs in-charge, Harish Rawat, and Amarinder Singh had spoken to Sekhri.