Punjab Congress fault lines widen

Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The turmoil in the Punjab Congress was playing itself on social media on Sunday with Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief Navjot Singh Sidhu asserting that he wouldn’t let the political discourse to deviate from “real issues” and Lok Sabha member Manish Tewari describing the situation in his party as ‘anarchy’.

Mr. Sidhu’s tweets, viewed in the backdrop of the ongoing fight between Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh over the latter’s friendship with a Pakistani national Aroosa Alam, isn't just an attempt to tone down personal attacks but bring back the discourse on the leadership question.

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“Punjab must come back to its real issues that concern every Punjabi and our future generations. How will we counter the financial emergency that stares upon us? I will stick to the real issues and not let them take a backseat! The choice is clear between irreparable damage and the last chance for damage control. Who will bring back State’s resources to the State’s coffers, instead of them going to private pockets? Who will lead the initiative for resurrection of our great State to prosperity!!” asked Mr. Sidhu.

Nervousness and doubts

These tweets reflect the nervousness and doubts in Mr. Sidhu’s mind about who would be party’s chief ministerial choice if it manages to retain power.

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi was chosen as a compromise after the faction-ridden leaders couldn’t agree on a name to replace Capt. Amarinder (retd.).

Also read: Punjab turmoil snowballs into major crisis for Congress

But soon the party made a virtue out of necessity as Mr. Channi was the first Scheduled Caste (SC) Chief Minister in a State where the SCs make up over 30% of the population.

At the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting on October 16, former party chief Rahul Gandhi claimed that empowering Dalit leadership is an article of faith for the party.

In less than 24 hours, Mr. Sidhu made his letter to party president Sonia Gandhi public.

The four-page letter, dated October 15, was ostensibly to seek an audience with her to explain his “Punjab Model” but the underlying message of his importance was clear.

He wrote, “Under your esteemed leadership, the Congress party won a 2/3rd majority in the 2017 Assembly elections, campaigning upon a pro-people agenda to give democratic and economic powers of the people back to the people. I personally campaigned in 55 Assembly constituencies, among which we won 53, arguing for a Punjab Model of Development, according to which the rightful resources of the State should come back to the State, instead of going to private pockets.”

He said his development model was “Punjab’s last chance for resurrection and redemption”.

Far from ‘resurrection’, Mr. Tewari, known to be close to Capt. Amarinder (retd.), questioned Mr. Sidhu’s elevation.

Repeated open defiance

“In my 40 years plus in @INCIndia, I have never seen such chaos & anarchy as what is playing out in @INCPunjab today. Repeated open defiance of AICC by a PCC president, colleagues squabbling publicly with each other like children,” Mr. Tewari tweeted on Sunday.

“For the past 5 months it is @INCPunjab versus @INCPunjab. Do we think that people of Punjab are not disgusted by this daily soap opera? Irony is that those who complained loudest of transgressions & aberrations were unfortunately & continue to be worst offenders themselves,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 2:40:14 AM |

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