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Punjab: Congress high command reluctant to give free rein to Channi-Sidhu, ‘remote-controlled’ cabinet expected

"Besides deciding who all will be the part of the cabinet, the appointment of the bureaucrats assisting the government will now be taken by the high command, more specifically, the Gandhis," said a senior party leader quoted by the News 18 report.

With the fallout with Captain Amarinder Singh fresh in mind, the Congress high command does not seem inclined to delegate powers to its Punjab unit. Within 4 days after being elected as the new Punjab Chief minister, Charanjit Singh Channi was summoned to Delhi two times to hash out a “consensus” cabinet, demonstrating party leadership’s resolve to keep the reins of the state government in its own hands and not allow local leadership to take control, a report published in News 18 said.

On Friday, 24 September, Channi was summoned again to Delhi, to discuss cabinet expansions, as per reports.

From administrative shuffle to the appointment of bureaucrats to the selection of ministers in the new Punjab Cabinet, Gandhis will reportedly have a say in all decisions concerning the state. The decision to take absolute control in Punjab state stems from the bad optics the party attracted in the wake of the unceremonious removal of Captain Amarinder Singh from the post of the chief minister.

“Besides deciding who all will be the part of the cabinet, the appointment of the bureaucrats assisting the government will now be taken by the high command, more specifically, the Gandhis,” said a senior party leader quoted by the News 18 report.

As per sources quoted in the report, the Gandhis are even keeping the Pradesh Congress Committee Navjot Singh Sidhu ‘under check’. Earlier this week, while returning from Shimla, the Gandhis took along with them former Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jhakhar to Delhi to consult him on the Punjab cabinet formation, indicating that they would also include those who are not firmly embedded in the Sidhu camp.

The party is mulling over appointing someone “neutral” as an election campaign party in charge to make sure that competing factions within the party do not indulge in recriminations over the appointment of the said person. Jakhar is among the frontrunner in the contention. According to the sources, Gandhis are open to consultation not just with Sidhu but with other voices within the party.

Officially, the party high command has maintained that it wants to give a free rein to the Channi-Siddhu duo in running the state, but the sources privy to the internal working of the Congress claim the Gandhis are still unwilling to devolve the entire responsibility to the two and still want to keep their functioning under check.

Sources say the inordinate delay in the announcement of the revamped police top brass was because of the high command scrutinising the names passed by the Punjab government. It is said that chief minister Channi was interested in having senior IPS officer Iqbal Preet Sahota, but the high command was less disposed to him and instead other names were also deliberated upon.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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