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Ongoing farmers’ agitation holding up appointment of Punjab Congress office-bearers

The ongoing farmers’ protests against the three agriculture marketing laws are holding up the appointment of office-bearers of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee.

All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in-charge of Punjab affairs Harish Rawat, who was in Chandigarh on Thursday to meet chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh and others, said the appointment of new panel is taking time as the party cannot distract its leaders from the fight being waged by the farmers.

“The farmers are fighting for their land and livelihood, and the Congress leaders are making efforts to identify with them without any self-interest,” he said.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi had dissolved the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee and all district committees in the state in January this year, retaining the state unit president Sunil Jakhar, to pave the way for its restructuring ahead of the 2022 assembly elections.

Rawat’s predecessor Asha Kumari had sent a list of office-bearers in consultation with Jakhar, but she was replaced before it could be finalised. Rawat, a former chief minister of Uttarakhand and five-time former MP, took charge in September and has held a series of meetings with the party MPs, MLAs and other leaders for feedback.

The AICC general secretary said when he took charge, there were three tasks on his priority list – unity, organisational structure and elections to urban local bodies. “The first task is more or less complete as Capt Amarinder, (former minister) Navjot Singh Sidhu and (Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh) Bajwa are in dialogue. The party set-up will be finalised as and when things settle down,” he said.

The party is also fully geared up for the local body polls and will announce its candidates once the election schedule is decided by the state government, he added.

On the farmers’ agitation, Rawat said the Centre should accept the protesters’ demands and take back all three laws. “This is a people’s movement and the Congress is lending its support to a just cause by cooperating with and facilitating the farmers. Both Capt and Jakhar are well-recognised for taking up the issues of farmers and it works to the advantage of the party,” he said.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) do not have the farmers’ trust, he further said. “(Former CM) Parkash Singh Badal could have made a difference earlier, but (SAD president) Sukhbir Singh Badal has not been able to identify himself with the farmers. Also, they continued in the NDA government even after the farm ordinances were promulgated,” he added.

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