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Navjot Singh Sidhu meets Rahul after marathon discussions with Priyanka Gandhi

Navjot Singh Sidhu leaves after meeting Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi on June 30, 2021.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Former Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who has been leading a public battle against Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, on Wednesday had a closed-door meeting with former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

The meeting with Mr. Gandhi, where Ms. Vadra was also present, lasted for almost an hour and a half but neither Mr. Sidhu spoke to the media nor did the Congress issue any statement. But the leaders are said to have discussed Mr. Sidhu’s role in the revamped Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) ahead of the next year’s Assembly polls.

Mr. Sidhu’s meeting with the former Congress chief in the evening was facilitated by a marathon meeting between him and Ms. Vadra at the latter’s house in the morning.

In the middle of her meeting, Ms. Vadra — playing the role of an emissary — drove down to her brother’s residence to brief Mr. Gandhi on her discussions.

“Had a long meeting with @priyankagandhiji,” Mr. Sidhu tweeted along with his photograph with Ms. Vadra.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi too visited Mr. Gandhi’s house in the afternoon but it wasn’t known if it was a private visit or to discuss the Punjab situation.

Mr. Sidhu’s meeting with the Gandhis stood in sharp contrast with what Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh experienced during his Delhi visit last week.

While Capt. Singh met the three-member panel of the All India Congress Committee (AICC), set up to end Punjab factionalism, the Gandhis did not meet him.

Political turmoil

For the past couple of months, Punjab Congress has been witnessing a political turmoil with several senior leaders speaking out against their own government, with Mr. Sidhu at the forefront.

While a majority of the MLAs are learnt to have said that Capt. Amarinder was best placed to lead the Congress into elections, many complained about his inaccessibility, predominance of bureaucrats in running the affairs and the existence of liquor, sand and transport mafia.

 

Mr. Sidhu had gone to the extent of alleging that the Chief Minister was protecting the Badals of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in most cases, including the 2015 sacrilege case in which the Guru Granth Sahib was desecrated at Bargari (Faridkot).

The three member AICC panel — comprising Mallikarjun Kharge, Harish Rawat and J.P. Aggarwal — in its report is learnt to have suggested around 20 action points, including in the sacrilege case and cracking down on various mafia operating in the State.

Since then, a special investigation team has questioned former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Lok Sabha member Sukhbir Singh Badal, who was the Deputy CM when Akalis were in power.

The AICC panel is also learnt to have suggested that Mr. Sidhu needed to be suitably accommodated in the party or the government. However, Capt. Amarinder is said to be resisting any move to make Mr. Sidhu the Pradesh Congress Committee chief.

The Punjab unit is expected to be revamped in the next few days based on the feedback party leaders gave to the AICC panel as well as Mr. Gandhi.


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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 6:18:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/navjot-singh-sidhu-meets-rahul-after-marathon-discussions-with-priyanka-gandhi/article35049475.ece

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