Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Sunday said that a new Director General of Police (DGP) would be appointed soon in consultation with the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief Navjot Singh Sidhu and other ministers.
His comments came hours after Mr. Sidhu had tweeted that DGP Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota and Advocate General (AG) Amar Preet Singh Deol must be replaced as their appointments are like “rubbing salt on the wounds of the victims of the sacrilege issue”.
Mr. Sidhu’s latest tweet comes just days after the Chief Minister reached out to him for a compromise after he sprang a surprise by resigning as the PCC chief to protest against these appointments.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a government programme to announce debt waiver for farm labourers and landless farmers, the Chief Minister said, as mandated by law, the State government has already forwarded the names of all senior police officers with 30 years of experience to the Centre.
Now, it is awaiting the Centre’s clearance to a panel of three names from which the new DGP would be appointed, a statement from the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said. The name would be finalised after consultation with Mr. Sidhu, all the minister and MLAs, the CMO statement added.
Mr Channi also told reporters that a coordination committee has been constituted for better coordination between the government and the PCC.
Earlier, in the day, Mr Sidhu had tweeted that not replacing the DGP and the Advocate General would leave the Congress with “no face”.
“Demand for Justice in Sacrilege cases and for arrest of main culprits behind the drug trade brought our Govt in 2017 & Due to his failure, People removed the last CM. Now, AG/DG appointments rub salt on wounds of victims, they must be replaced or we will have No face,” Mr. Sidhu tweeted.
In an attempt to placate him, the Channi government appointed R.S. Bains as Special Public Prosecutor to handle all the sacrilege-related cases.
However, Mr. Sidhu, whose status as the PCC chief is still not clear as he has not formally withdrawn his resignation, seemed to harden his stance a day after his tweet that he would stand by the Gandhis, “post or no post”.
“Will uphold principles of Gandhi Ji & Shastri Ji … Post or No Post will stand by @RahulGandhi & @priyankagandhi ! Let all negative forces try to defeat me, but with every ounce of positive energy will make Punjab win, Punjabiyat (Universal Brotherhood) win & every punjabi win !!” he had tweeted on Saturday.
The cricketer-turned-politician, who has made the Bargari sacrilege issue the main poll plank ahead of next year’s Assembly polls, wants the DGP and AG changed for their roles, respectively, in the sacrilege issue.
His objection to Mr. Deol is that he defended the former Punjab police chief Sumedh Singh Saini, an accused in the Behbal Kalan police firing case of 2015. Mr. Sahota has earned Mr. Sidhu ire as the head of a Special Investigation Team on the sacrilege issue that reportedly gave the Badals a “clean chit”.