Sulking over Cabinet rejig, 3 senior Cong MLAs quit House panels

Chandigarh, May 15: Fresh revolt broke out in the Congress in Punjab over last month’s cabinet expansion. Three of its senior MLAs met the assembly speaker, Rana KP Singh, and resigned from House panels recently reconstituted by him.

Speaking to HT at the assembly, MLAs Rakesh Pandey, Amrik Singh Dhillon and Randeep Singh Nabha said chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh had said seniority would be accorded due respect in cabinet expansion but it was “totally ignored”. It was late last month that the CM chose nine new ministers to complete the cabinet of 18, including himself.

The three MLAs trained their guns at the state leadership, saying that neither the CM nor state unit chief Sunil Jakhar, nor party affairs in-charges Asha Kumari and Harish Chaudhary, reached out to them. “We have now sought time to meet Congress president Rahul Gandhi to register our protest, and we may also resign from party posts,” Randeep, a four-time MLA who represents Amloh seat, said.

Dhillon was last week made chairman of the assembly’s library committee and Pandey of the committee on public undertakings. Randeep was made a member of both.

Recounting his family’s contribution to the party, Randeep said, “We are perturbed over the way the government is functioning. The CM should be gracious enough to reach out to us and tell us why we have been ignored.” On why they are dissenting four weeks after the cabinet expansion, he said they were waiting for elections to be over in Karnataka.

Pandey, a six-time MLA, who represents Ludhiana North, said he had texted Jakhar that he was contemplating resigning from the post of vice-president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) too, but Jakhar did not revert. “I could not have an audience with the CM too on the issue. We have been forced to speak for our self-respect, seniority and contribution to the party,” he added.

Randeep too is a vice-president of the PPCC while Dhillon’s son Kamaljit is the state unit’s treasurer. “If MLAs are dissatisfied, should the government and party not bother to address their grouse?” Dhillon, a four-time MLA from Samrala, asked rhetorically.

Jakhar, when contacted, said the leadership has reached out to those upset after the cabinet expansion. “It is our duty to take everybody along, and we will try to resolve this,” he said. Speaker Rana KP Singh said he would bring the resignations to the notice of the leader of the house (CM) and sort out the issue.

Earlier, three Congress MLAs, Sangat Singh Gilzian, Nathu Ram and Surjit Dhiman, had resigned from party posts over “inadequate” representation to Dalits and Backward Classes in the cabinet. Dalit MLAs such as Raj Kumar Verka, technical education minister Charanjit Singh Channi and deputy speaker Ajaib Singh Bhatti had also met Rahul to express their resentment.

Sourced from Hindustan Times