To resolve the infighting within the Punjab Congress unit, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Friday met the three-member panel appointed by AICC president Sonia Gandhi to apprise them of the outstanding issues within the party’s state unit.
The three-member panel is headed by Rajya Sabha leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge along with Delhi MP JP Agarwal and AICC general secretary in-charge of Punjab, Harish Rawat. Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has been kept in the loop of all the developments taking place with several Punjab leaders.
Amarinder Singh and Navjot Singh Sidhu have been involved in a internal tussle during which the latter publicly attacked the CM over the Special Investigations Team (SIT) appointed for the sacrilege case, accused him of incompetence, and the inaction on clamping down on the drug mafia in the state.
The former cabinet minister has pointed fingers at Singh over several issues, ranging from unfulfilled promises, his quid pro quo with Akalis and the issue of botched-up probe in Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan firing cases. In addition, he also said that the party had ways to get pulled out of their debt-ridden state if their tendency to pocket money for profit is checked.
After months of bitter war of words with Amarinder Singh, Sidhu had a meeting with the high-level panel along with party MPs, MLAs and former PCC chiefs and several other leaders.
After the meeting, Sidhu told the media, “I came on the invitation of the high command. Whatever they asked me about the people of Punjab, I apprised them. I have come to make sure that the voice of the people of Punjab reaches the high command. I have come to convey their message. My stand is that the democratic power of people that goes to the government in the form of taxes should go back to the people, in whatever form. I came to tell the truth. The power of the people must return to the people. I have completely uncovered the truth. The truth may be oppressed but it cannot be defeated. So I have brought the truth of Punjab to the notice of the high command. We have to make the truth victorious and defeat every anti-Punjab force.” He refused to speak further.
With barely a year left for Assembly elections in the state, there is uneasiness, with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s detractors planning to open a front against him. Sources said Navjot Singh Sidhu had meetings with a couple of ministers and some MLAs to plan their strategy.
He, as Cabinet minister, had suggested to the government that a state having three rivers can make hundreds of crores from sand. He also stated that it can make hundreds of crores from liquor as well. His suggestions, however, were trashed.
It is said that Sidhu, along with several other ministers, had planned to ramp up pressure on Captain to book the perpetrators of the Baragri sacrilege case and the subsequent police firing cases of Kotkapura.
According to sources, a group of 38 MLAs and ministers came together to “impress upon the party high command that people of Punjab were upset with the Congress government for not delivering justice in sacrilege case, bringing big fish to book in drugs issue, failing to make electricity cheaper, and that a perception had four a strong footing in the minds of people that there was a quid-pro-quo between Congress and the Akalis”.
BJP takes swipe at Congress over internal fight; AAP accuses party of abandoning Punjab
Responding to the ongoing infighting within the state Congress unit, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said, “Today, the entire (Congress) party and the government of Punjab are in Delhi. Who will look after Punjab? Ignoring Punjab for their internal fight. This is a big sin of Congress.”
Targetting Rahul Gandhi, Javadekar said, “I would suggest to Rahul that instead of giving lectures to others, he should first think how works can be done properly in his state,” he said. The minister also accused Capt Amarinder Singh of “making a profit” out of the free vaccine doses provided by the Centre.
Meanwhile, AAP leader Raghav Chadha accused the party of abandoning Punjab. “There is a political earthquake going on in Punjab. While 27 other states in country are busy fighting the Covid pandemic, in Punjab, (Congress leaders) are fighting with each other,” Chadha said while addressing the media on Thursday in Delhi.
According to sources, Navjot Singh Sidhu may be called back to the Punjab cabinet and be offered the post of deputy chief minister, in order to bring back normalcy.