Punjab is one of the two states where Congress posted a respectable performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. However, above the electoral success, internal party rifts also surfaced and intensified during the Congress campaign for the Lok Sabha elections. The most notable of which is surely the power struggle between Punjab CM Capt. Amarinder Singh and controversial cricketer turned politician Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu. Nonetheless, the fight seems to be peaking and events indicate towards a conclusive development which might leave a sour taste with one of the camps.
In the last few weeks, the long-brewing animosity between Navjot Singh Sidhu and Capt. Amarinder Singh has turned into open hostility. Earlier in a cabinet reshuffle, Local Government and Tourism and Cultural Affairs portfolio were taken away from Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu and he was moved to what is seen as a less weighty portfolio of Power and New and Renewable Energy. Siddhu is yet to take charge of his new portfolio and was also not present during the first Cabinet meeting.
Navjot Singh Sidhu missing from Punjab Cabinet meeting today. Has he kept his word and quit politics? Just asking in purely public interest. pic.twitter.com/p7h7GIb2KV
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) June 6, 2019
According to reports, the minister met Congress Chief Rahul Gandhi in a bid to ‘apprise’ him of the situation. He tweeted:
Met the congress President, handed him my letter, appraised him of the situation ! pic.twitter.com/ZcLW0rr8r3
— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) June 10, 2019
Camping in Delhi since Friday in order to meet Rahul Gandhi, Navjot Singh Sidhu has also reportedly given a letter to him and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Responding to the letter, in which Sidhu has reportedly put out his side of the story; Rahul Gandhi had advised him to reconsider his decision.
#Breaking | After Sidhu expressed his disappointments in Congress High Command, RaGA (@RahulGandhi) asks Sidhu (@sherryontopp) to reconsider his decision mentioned in the letter submitted today morning. Ahmed Patel to mitigate internal strife.
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) June 10, 2019
This meeting with Rahul Gandhi has surely raised eyebrows within the Congress camp, as Capt. Amarinder Singh has been quite vocal about his opposition of Navjot Singh Siddhu and his antics. However, this meeting with the top brass of the Congress surely sends signals of their support for Sidhu’s antics and disregard for the authority of Punjab CM Capt. Amarinder Singh.
The spat between Punjab CM and the minister took an ugly turn when the minister had openly accused Amarinder Singh to be responsible for the denial of Lok Sabha ticket to his wife, Navjot Kaur, from the Chandigarh seat. On the day of the results, May 23, Amarinder Singh had said the Congress failed to do well in urban areas because Mr. Sidhu had handled his portfolio poorly.
However, the difference became apparent when Navjot Sidhu went to Pakistan to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Imran Khan, despite Amarinder Singh not being supportive of his trip. After the whole event, Amarinder Singh had taken aim at Navjot Siddhu for hugging Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa at the swearing-in ceremony and claimed that Navjot Singh’s act did not go down well with the public and especially the serviceman.
Capt. Amarinder Singh remains one of the most popular leaders in the Congress apart from the Gandhi-Vadra family. Gandhi-Vadra family, which has been infamous for undermining any emerging leader, who could be a credible opposition to the strong arm hold of the dynasty over the grand old party, seems to be moving ahead against Amarinder Singh. Surely these developments might force Captain Amarinder Singh to end his association with the Congress and their high handed culture and float an independent political outfit, which given the current situation is not only appropriate but also warranted.