After much speculations and intra-party squabbling in Punjab, AICC President Sonia Gandhi on Sunday appointed Navjot Singh Sidhu as the President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee with immediate effect. Gandhi also appointed four working presidents — Sangat Singh Gilzian, Sukhwinder Singh Danny, Pawan Goel and Kuljit Singh Nagra.
Anticipating Sidhu’s elevation earlier, 11 MLAs earlier today came out in support of Chief Minister Singh whom they called the “tallest leader of masses” and appealed to the party high command not to let him down.
The decision was made after a series of meetings of the Congress high command with Sidhu and Punjab chief minster Amarinder Singh. Both the leaders have been at loggerheads for some time now.
Sidhu was earlier in the Amarinder Singh’s cabinet but resigned after his portfolio was changed in 2019. Sidhu has been critical of Amarinder Singh over many issues including his handling of 2015 sacrilege incidents and subsequent firings.
The Congress had been making efforts to resolve the infighting as the state will go to polls next year. Punjab in-charge Harish Rawat held a several round of meetings with Sidhu and Singh besides other state party leaders to iron out the differences.
Sidhu has long been batting for big role in Punjab. However, his equation with Amarinder came in the way of accommodating him in the government. Reports suggest that the understanding in the party was that since Amarinder was comfortably placed in his position, Sidhu could be given the charge of the party.
However, Amarinder reportedly wrote to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and expressed his reservation over any such move. PTI reported that Singh, in his letter to Gandhi, said that there could be an adverse impact on the party’s prospects in the upcoming assembly polls by ignoring the old guard and other senior party leaders representing Hindu and Dalit communities. Sindhu joined the Congress only in 2017.
Reports say Amarinder wanted someone from Hindu community to lead the party as he and Sidhu both are Jat Sikh. Similar sentiment was echoed by Congress leader and chairman of Punjab Large Industrial Development Board Pawan Dewan.
In a tweet on Friday, Dewan said: “Punjab Congress president – Jat Sikh. CM-Jat Sikh. Punjab Youth Congress President- Jat Sikh Campaign Committee Chairman- Jat Sikh, Hindu kaha hai (where is the representation of the Hindu community)?”
However, Rawat flew down to Chandigarh to meet Amarinder and convince him for Sidhu’s elevation as Punjab Congress chief. After meeting Amarinder, Rawat said that the Punjab chief minister reiterated that he would honour the decision made by the Congress chief.
However, Amarinder has reportedly said that he won’t meetSidhu until he apologies for the tweets criticizing the government over the sacrilege case and electricity.
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