Punjab power tussle | Other States

Navjot Singh Sidhu may captain Congress in Punjab

Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu leaves for Amritsar from his residence, in Patiala on July 17, 2021.

Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu leaves for Amritsar from his residence, in Patiala on July 17, 2021.

Decks seem to have been cleared for the elevation of former Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu as president of the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) after All India Congress Committee (AICC) in charge of the State Harish Rawat held a meeting on Saturday with Chief Minister Captain (retd.) Amarinder Singh, who asserted that he would abide by the party president’s decision.

Amid the ongoing power tussle between Capt. Amarinder and Mr. Sidhu ahead of the 2022 Assembly polls, Mr. Rawat flew down to Chandigarh from Delhi to meet the Chief Minister and settle down the “differences” between the two leaders.

Amarinder not happy with proposal

Capt. Amarinder had been reportedly annoyed with the proposal of Mr. Sidhu being elevated as party chief. Sources said he, however, during the meeting, firmly conveyed it to Mr. Rawat that unless Mr. Sidhu apologised for his unpleasant remarks against him (Capt. Amarinder) recently through tweets, he would not meet Mr. Sidhu.

Mr. Rawat tweeted after the meeting, “I have just returned to Delhi after meeting @capt_amarinderji. I am happy that many things which are being discussed outside have proved to be completely baseless and Captain Sahib has again reiterated his important statement.. In which he has said that whatever decision will be taken by honourable Congress president regarding the post of Punjab president, that decision will be acceptable to him, I will respect it.”

“#Thankyou_Captain for your great statement,” he added.

A day after he met party president Sonia Gandhi, Mr. Sidhu on Saturday met State party leaders, MLAs and Ministers in an effort to take everyone along. He met party’s State president Sunil Jakhar, besides Minister Sukhjinder Randhawa and Balbir Singh Sidhu. He also met MLAs Raja Warring, Kulbir Zira, Darshan Brar and Barindermeet Singh Pahra among other leaders.

‘A foregone conclusion’

A senior party leader told The Hindu that it was a foregone conclusion that Mr. Sidhu would be the next PCC chief. “An official announcement is merely a formality now. Mr. Sidhu has been asked by the ‘high command’ to start working. Meeting party leaders to seek their support and cooperation is what Mr. Sidhu has started with,” he stated.

The party leader added that it was only ‘out of respect’ that Mr. Rawat held a meeting with the Chief Minister. Otherwise the decision on Mr. Sidhu had been finalised by the central leadership.

Mr. Jakhar said Mr. Sidhu paid him a courtesy visit at his residence. “Strength lies in unity and Mr. Sidhu should strive to work with everybody in whatever position he holds.. While no official announcement has been made, he [Sidhu] should take everybody along,” he told The Hindu .

At loggerheads since 2019

The party leadership is desperate to resolve the stand-off between Capt. Amarinder and Mr. Sidhu, who had been at loggerheads since the 2019 Lok Sabha poll.

It started with Mr. Sidhu’s wife, Navjot Kaur Sidhu, accusing Capt. Amarinder of blocking her Lok Sabha ticket from Chandigarh. Later, the Chief Minister alleged that Mr. Sidhu did not handle his Local Bodies portfolio well which, he claimed, resulted in the Congress’s “poor performance” in urban areas in the general election. Capt. Amarinder later divested Mr. Sidhu of Local Bodies and allocated him the Power and New and Renewable Energy Sources portfolios. Mr. Sidhu then quit the Cabinet and since then, the stand-off between them has only intensified.

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2022 12:01:53 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/navjot-singh-sidhus-elevation-as-punjab-congress-committee-chief-a-foregone-conclusion/article35378826.ece