All-party meet today, Cong MPs resent Capt’s absence

Chandigarh/Patiala, November 14: The state government’s decision to go ahead with tomorrow’s all-party meeting of Punjab MPs in the absence of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has evoked a sharp reaction from Congress parliamentarians, even as the Akalis have decided to skip the meet.

Pratap Singh Bajwa

Rajya Sabha MP and former PPCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa said: “I need to take up crucial issues of the state with the CM, including a hike in the state- assured price (SAP) of sugarcane. Since he is not coming, there is no point in attending the meeting.”
Capt Amarinder said Health Minister Brahm Mohindra had convened the meeting for a detailed discussion on Punjab-specific issues to be taken up in Parliament and it was up to them (MPs) to take part.
A senior Congress leader said the changes in the date of the meeting, first from November 6 to the 14th and then the 15th, had upset various MPs’ schedule.
It is learnt that Ludhiana MP Ravneet Bittu would also not be present as he is scheduled to attend a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee in New Delhi.

Rajya Sabha MP Ambika Soni said since it was the first meeting of state MPs, the CM should have chaired it. Another Rajya Sabha MP, Shamsher Singh Dullo, said it was a good initiative, but the CM’s presence was important.
PPCC chief and Gurdaspur MP Sunil Jakhar said the meeting was being held as per schedule. There are 26 issues listed for discussion, including the development of border areas, livestock and extension services, introduction of the dairy credit card, release of funds under the post-matric scholarship scheme, skill development centres, acquisition of land for the Rajpura-Mohali rail link and stubble-burning.

Akali MPs decided to boycott the meeting, citing the CM’s absence. Prem Singh Chandumajra, SAD general secretary and spokesman, said, “The meeting was rescheduled time and again on one pretext or the other and now we have received a message that the CM will not be able to preside over it.”
“It is highly condemnable that the Chief Minister is taking Punjab’s issues very lightly and is not available for a formal meeting of MPs to discuss the same,” Chandumajra said.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) state convener and Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann will also boycott the meeting. He said it was unfortunate that the CM didn’t have time to meet the MPs. Suspended AAP MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi said he would attend it, adding that MPs should rise above party lines and discuss issues concerning the state.
Union Minister and BJP MP Vijay Sampla will not attend the meeting due to a prior engagement, party secretary Vineet Joshi said.

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