Chandigarh, August 12: With Amarinder Singh’s visit to the Congress high command over, it is now the turn of arch-rival and state party president Navjot Sidhu to lead his followers with their own tale of woes against the chief minister.
Amarinder, who met Sonia Gandhi, earlier this week, had apprised her of the statements made by Sidhu over the past month, insisting that they would damage the party’s prospects in the assembly polls slated for early next year.
Sidhu has been demanding action against those named in the special investigating team’s status report in a drug trafficking case. As state Congress chief, he has also appointed four advisers without informing the chief minister.
Sidhu has also been holding meetings with Dalit leaders. Dalits comprise 32 per cent of the state’s population and play a crucial role in assembly as well as parliamentary elections. Both the BJP and the Shiromani Akali Dal have promised important portfolios to Dalits in case either wins the polls. The Sidhu camp also claims to enjoy the support of the majority of the young generation in the state.
“This is about saving the Congress in Punjab. Amarinder has been running the state with the help of the bureaucracy and not politically. With elections around the corner, we stand no chance to defeat the Shiromani Akali Dal, our main opponent, if Amarinder is not reined in,” a Sidhu confidante, said.
The Congress high command, during the meeting with Amarinder, had categorically asked him to work in tandem and not cross-purposes with Sidhu.
Amarinder was even told to accommodate legislators from the Sidhu camp in the upcoming cabinet rejig and ensure none of the ministers from the Sidhu camp were dropped but given important departments.
Interestingly, AICC general secretary and Punjab in-charge Harish Rawat will be visiting Chandigarh next week to iron out differences between Amarinder and Sidhu and overlook the cabinet reshuffle or expansion.
Sidhu is also expected to hold a meeting with all Congress legislators soon. All eyes are on the numbers attending his call.
“Sidhu has been questioning the chief minister on various issues and demanding action publicly, giving the impression that he is acting against the party. This is intolerable. The high command must realise he is turning the party into a circus and helping our opponents. He has to be reined in. The party will split otherwise,” an Amarinder loyalist warned.
Sources close to Amarinder said in case the high command fails to rein in Sidhu and his followers the party could face a vertical split.
“There is no one in Punjab politics enjoying the same charisma as Amarinder. There never will. He can severe ties with the Congress, float his own party and still emerge victorious. Sidhu is being increasingly seen as a rabble-rouser out to destroy the Congress,” a veteran Congress leader remarked.
The high command is yet to respond to a meeting by the Sidhu camp over their Amarinder woes. The show goes on.
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