Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned from the post of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief yesterday, giving a big jolt to the Gandhis. The party high command changed the chief minister of Punjab in the hopes of resolving the political crisis in the state ahead of the 2022 assembly election. Sidhu, who appeared to be the leading voice among the Congress party members that ensured the dismissal of the former CM, Capt. Amarinder Singh, said in his resignation letter that his voice had been sidelined during the induction of the new Charanjit Singh Channi cabinet.
Sidhu‘s shocking decision came minutes after the allocation of portfolios to the newly appointed ministers in CM Channi’s cabinet on Tuesday. According to media reports, Sidhu was not happy with the inclusion of some leaders such as Rana Gurjit, Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota, and Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa.
In a letter to the acting Congress party president, Sonia Gandi, Sidhu reportedly wrote: “The collapse of a man’s character stems from the compromise corner. I can never compromise on Punjab’s future and the agenda for the welfare of Punjab. Therefore, I hereby resign as the President of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. Will continue to serve the Congress.”
The Congress, however, has not accepted Sidhu’s resignation from his post as the Punjab PCC so far. Following Sidhu’s resignation, at least four leaders – Gulzar Inder Singh Chahal, Razia Sultana, Yoginder Dhingra, and Gautam Seth – have also stepped down.
The Indian Express reported that a rift is among the Punjab Congress leaders is apparent as the party members in the majority were not keen to allow Sidhu an upper hand in Channi’s government. The report says that his suggestions for cabinet ministers and allocation of portfolios were not considered by the Congress high command.
A party leader said that Sidhu believes in “revenge politics” and therefore, was not happy with some leaders who were inducted into Channi’s cabinet. According to sources as the Punjab PCC chief, Sidhu wanted a remote-control government in the state.
The reason for his disappointment has also been cited to be the exclusion of close aides – Deepinder Singh Patwalia and Kuljit Singh Nagra – from the new cabinet.
The appointment of senior advocate Amar Preet Singh Deol as Punjab Advocate General also shocked Sidhu. Deol was the advocate of controversial DGP Sumedh Singh Saini, who was the police chief during the incidents of sacrilege and police firing on protesters in 2015. Sidhu also questioned the appointment of IPS officer Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota as the director general of Punjab Police.
Can’t Compromise With Ethics: Sidhu
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu released a video on Twitter and said that he will not compromise with his ethics and principles.
Expressing his extreme indignation over the appointment of APS Deol and other controversial leaders in Channi’s cabinet, Sidhu said that he will neither mislead the high command, nor let them be misled.
He further added in his video message, “I don’t have any personal rivalry with anyone. 17 years of my political career have been directed towards a purpose… to make a difference, to take a stand and to make people’s lives better. That is my only religion.”
CM Channi Reaches Out To Sidhu
Amid the fresh political turmoil in Punjab Congress following Sidhu’s resignation, CM Channi has reached out to him and urged him to resolve the issue. He said that Sidhu is the head of the Punjab PCC and that the party can fix the issue.
“If anyone has any objections to any appointment, then I am not rigid on that. There is no ego tussle,” CM Channi said in his press conference on Wednesday.
Amarinder Camp Seeks Floor Test
Meanwhile, MLAs close to the former CM, Capt. Amarinder Singh, have sought a floor test after the back-to-back resignations in Punjab Congress within 24 hours.
According to reports, at least eight MLAs are likely to visit Governor Banwarilal Purohit in Chandigarh after a discussion on the possibility of a floor test with Capt. Singh.
Congress has a total of 77 MLAs in the Punjab assembly, of which, the Amarinder camp has at least eight MLAs while Sidhu has the support of 13.
“G-23, Not Ji Huzoor-23“
Senior leaders of the Congress have also expressed their disappointment on the Punjab crisis. “In Congress, there is no elected president now. We don’t know who is taking decisions,” said Rajya Sabha member Kapil Sibal. He continued, “Why are people leaving? Maybe we should see whether it is our fault? We have to immediately call a CWC, at least so a dialogue can take place. We won’t leave the ideology of the party and go anywhere else. The irony of the Congress is that those who are close to them (leadership) have left and those who they think are not close to them are still there.”
Former leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and senior congress leader, Ghulam Nabi Azad has also reportedly written to Sonia Gandhi to convene a Congress Working Committee meeting to discuss the recent exits from the party. These also include the departure of Sushmita Dev and Luizinho Faleiro from the Congress to join the TMC.
Amarinder And BJP
The speculation regarding the meeting between senior BJP leaders and Capt. Amarinder Singh began yesterday, as soon as the former Punjab CM landed in Delhi. Sources within the BJP have hinted that Home Minister Amit Shah and the BJP national president, J.P. Nadda, are likely to meet Capt. Singh. There is expected to be further clarity on this in the upcoming days.