A day after senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal hosted dinner for leaders cutting across party lines, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday held a similar event for party MPs and leaders from Punjab.
Those present at Amarinder Singh’s dinner include former Union Minister Manish Tewari, who is part of ‘G-23’ bloc of party leaders who have sought wide-ranging reforms in the Congress, former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, MPs Santokh Chaudhry, and Preneet Kaur (the Chief Minister’s wife), and few ministers from Punjab.
However, Rajya Sabha members Pratap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dullo were not present as both are considered from the opposite camp.
On the significance of the dinner, party sources say that Amarinder Singh is trying to fortify himself ahead of crucial state elections and muster support for himself.
The dinner came hours after Amarinder Singh met party interim chief Sonia Gandhi, in their first meeting after Navjot Singh Sidhu was appointed the Congress chief in Punjab despite the Chief Minister’s opposition.
Their meeting lasted an hour, and sources said that the two leaders discussed the Assembly elections scheduled next year, besides talking about a minor reshuffle in the state cabinet.
Amarinder Singh’s media advisor, Raveen Thukral, in a tweet, quoted the Chief Minister’s statement after the meeting: “Met @INCIndia president #SoniaGandhi ji in Delhi this evening to discuss various state related issues. Spent an extremely satisfying one hour with her.”
Ahead of the meeting, Amarinder Singh had detailed discussions with poll strategist Prashant Kishor, who had recently resigned as his advisor.
The Punjab Chief Minister then met Union Home Minister Amit Shah, from whom he demanded more Central forces be deployed in the state ahead of Independence Day.
Citing the escalating threat to the state’s security from across the border, he asked Shah to urgently provide 25 companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and anti-drone gadgets to the Border Security Force for protection from Pakistan-backed terror forces.
He also pressed the Union Home Minister for immediate repeal of the farm laws, which had caused great resentment amongst farmers from his and other states, stressing the social, economic and security implications of the prolonged farmers’ agitation