Just 4 MPs turn up at all-party meet
Chandigarh: Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s initiative of bringing all party Members of Parliament (MPs) on one platform to discuss state-specific issues ahead of the Parliament’s winter session fizzled out with only four of the 20 parliamentarians turning up for the first meeting called here today.Barring three Congress MPs — Chaudhary Santokh Singh, Sunil Jakhar and Gurjeet Aujla — the presence of suspended AAP MP from Patiala Dr Dharamvira Gandhi was the only saving grace for the Congress government.Senior Congress MPs Partap Bajwa, Shamsher Singh Dullo and Ambika Soni gave the meeting a miss, indicating communication breakdown within the party’s top state leadership.Coming to the rescue of the CM, while referring to the party MPs who have questioned Amarinder’s inability to face them at the meeting, PPCC chief and Gurdaspur MP Sunil Jakhar said: “Both Partap Bajwa and Shamsher Dullo are former PPCC presidents. They should understand that the forum was not to discuss party issues, but state-level issues related to the Centre.”Jakhar also took at a dig at Akali and BJP MPs for “not working for the interests of the state”.Without giving any valid reason for the absence of the CM, who has himself initiated the move, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Brahm Mohindra, after chairing the meeting, said the issue was being unnecessarily politicised by the MPs who were working against the interest of the state.“The CM wants to equip all party MPs with facts and figures about the issues being taken up with the Centre. Former CM Parkash Singh Badal had never called such meeting in 10 years,” he said.Terming the meeting a success, Mohindra said: “I had called the meeting on the directions of the CM. Apart from me, the Chief Secretary and all administrative secretaries related to 26 departments were present. The CM can meet the MPs later.”Praising the initiative, Dr Gandhi said the very purpose of the meeting was sacrificed due to intra-party and inter-party factionalism.An MP said: “If the Parliamentary Affairs Minister had to chair the meeting, it should have been done at the previous dates. Why two postponements? There would have been no controversy.”On SAD MPs’ boycott of the all-party meeting, Amarinder said it was their prerogative. “Any MP who boycotted the meeting did so at the cost of the welfare of Punjab and its people. As elected representatives, the MPs are responsible for collectively raising the concerns of the state. The meeting was an important forum to formalise their agenda,” the CM said, adding all MPs should rise above party politics and work collectively for the interests of the state.Ghubaya at venue, but misses meetingSulking Akali MP Sher Singh Ghubaya, whose son is Congress MLA from Fazilka, was seen at the Punjab Bhawan, the venue of the meeting, but he did not participate.