The internal fight in the Punjab unit of Congress is getting dirtier with every passing day. A few days ago, Navjot Singh Sidhu, who has gone all out against incumbent CM Amarinder Singh, met with Sonia Gandhi amid the speculations that he could be raised to the position of the Pradesh Congress Chief of the Punjab unit.
After the meet, Amarinder Singh wrote a letter to Congress president and warned that Sidhu’s elevation to the post of party chief could lead to a split in the party because old guards, especially from the Hindu and Sikh Dalit communities, do not like the working style of Sidhu.
According to the CM, Sidhu’s working style would hurt Congress. “Old party members will be angry, and the Congress will be split due to this,” he said in the letter.
Harish Rawat, Punjab in charge of the Congress party, said that he never said that Sidhu would be elevated to the position of the Congress chief, but he has submitted a note to party president Sonia Gandhi, and she will make a decision very soon.
“I have submitted my note. I believe Congress president will take her time and come to a decision soon,” Mr Rawat said. On Mr Singh possibly objecting to the reported peace plan, he replied: “If there is any communication gap, I am here to take care of it.”
As per the note submitted by Rawat, Sidhu would be appointed as President but there will be two working presidents – one from the Dalit community and one from the Hindu community – so that the long-held demand of Hindus and Dalits of getting fair representation can be accommodated.
Previously Amarinder Singh warned Sidhu that if he dares to contest against the incumbent CM, the latter would lose security deposits. “I don’t know where he will go or which party he will join. Akali Dal is upset with him and BJP won’t accept him… so most likely AAP. If he wants to contest against me from Patiala he will meet the same fate as General JJ Singh, who lost his security deposits,” CM Amarinder Singh said in an interview to a private channel.
Sidhu has been extremely vocal against the Punjab government’s functioning, and especially Captain Amarinder Singh even when he was a cabinet-level minister — although he had to pay the price for it after he was ejected from the cabinet.
Amarinder had divested Sidhu of the Local Government and Tourism and Cultural Affairs Departments and allotted him the power and new and renewable energy portfolio. However, Sidhu had refused to assume the charge and resigned.
In the Congress party, the presence of Sidhu and Amarinder Singh reflects an uneasy truce. It is a well-known fact that the two senior leaders of the Punjab Congress have had polar views regarding many vital issues. Their inability to see eye to eye isn’t new.
On the invitation of Pakistan’s Foreign Office for the swearing-in ceremony of Imran Khan, Amarinder Singh had vehemently rejected the invitation by citing the continuous terror attacks from across the border. However, calling it a personal invite from a dear friend, Sidhu not only accepted the invitation but also attended the ceremony.
The state of Punjab goes into polls next year and Congress which has already seen its political map shrink by a considerable extent since PM Modi first came into power in 2014, is not willing to lose a state where it still has some sway. However, the war between the two heavyweight leaders is exposing the deep fissures within the party which might crack up wide as the assembly polls near