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Channi govt set to quick-fix issues neglected by Captain

The Times of India logo The Times of India 21-09-2021 Subodh Ghildiyal
Navjot Singh Sidhu et al. posing for the camera © Provided by The Times of India

NEW DELHI: Taking a prompt from repeated surveys conducted by the party in Punjab, the new Congress government under chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi is likely to prioritise reworking of power purchase agreements, resolving the sacrilege case and take action against drug and transport mafia in the state.

The surveys commissioned by the party showed these issues remained uppermost in people’s minds, even as persistent nudging of Congress managers failed to elicit action from former CM Amarinder Singh, who in fact said he was addressing the issues. This became a reason why the party leadership finally decided to go for a change, top sources said.

The surveys were done at regular intervals and the persistence of the perception about inaction on these four issues in recent months raised alarm in Congress in view of assembly elections in 2022.

Well-placed sources said the leadership was against the removal of Singh as a corrective given his stature in Congress party as well as his proximity to the Gandhi family. The appointment of popular and maverick Navjot Singh Sidhu as state unit president recently was devised as a via media to correct the party’s image and also trigger action from the government.

An 18-point agenda publicly announced two months ago for Singh to take action was another way of jolting him into dramatic action but sources said he preferred the normal procedures on key issues.

Sources said the expectation from Channi and his cabinet is of expeditious action on these four high-priority issues besides sending out the message that the government is on top of the problems.

“When we received a memorandum from over 55 MLAs in which they said that they will not contest elections unless the leadership was changed, we could not have ignored it. There were fears that many of them may join other parties ahead of elections. That’s when the party decided that it was time to move on,” a senior leader told TOI.

What had further enraged the MLAs was that those who complained against the CM to the Mallikarjun Kharge-led three-member committee on Punjab affairs, faced action from the state unit. TOI had reported in August that the AICC had conveyed to then-CM to assure the MLAs of fair treatment and that the onus of settling the dissent lay with Singh.

After the drama of Singh’s ouster, there is hope in Congress that the new cabinet can renew the party’s perception with people on key issues while its social engineering will deliver on mobilisation among key demographics. The party has high hopes from the sprawling Dalit community after the appointment of the first chief minister from the group in the form of Channi.

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