Updated on: Tuesday, September 28, 2021, 10:58 PM IST

Navjot Singh Sidhu plunges Congress into turmoil once again, quits as state party president


New Delhi: Navjot Singh Sidhu (57), cricketer-turned-TV entertainer and currently Congress MLA from Amritsar, on Tuesday plunged the Congress into turmoil once again by quitting as the Punjab Congress President.

He is essentially miffed – thought he is not admitting as much -- at not being made the chief minister after he manoeuvred Captain Amarinder Singh and ensured his exit as Chief Minister.

In a brief letter to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Sidhu has written: "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."

AMARINDER: I TOLD YOU SO: Moments after Sidhu’s resignation, Amarinder Singh, who was on his way to Delhi, tweeted: "I told you so...He is not a stable man

and not fit for the border state of Punjab.’’ (Amarinder recently resigned as the Chief Minister, feeling "humiliated" as his leadership was questioned by the party high command.) He dubbed Sidhu as "anti-national" and "dangerous" and threatened to put up a strong candidate against the latter in the upcoming Assembly elections.

Lobbying has already ensued in Delhi with some Congress leaders urging Sonia Gandhi to step in and reinstate Amarinder as the Chief Minister by undoing Rahul and Priyanka’s gambit to oust him.

AIDE DENIES MEETING BJP LEADERS: Amarinder's first visit to Delhi after resigning as the chief minister has, meanwhile, ignited the buzz that he is likely to meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP President J P Nadda and discuss entry in the BJP, but his media adviser Raveen Thukral scotched the speculation, tweeting that "too much is being read" into his visit to the national capital.

A BJP leader also confirmed that Amarinder has not sought any appointment with Amit Shah or Nadda, but added that the possibility of their meeting cannot be ruled out. Thukral said: "Captain is on a personal visit, during which he will meet some friends and also vacate the Kapurthala House for the new CM. No need for any unnecessary speculation."

SIDHU SOUNDED GEN SECY: Congress sources said Sidhu had confided in AICC general secretary in-charge of Punjab Harish Rawat(73), a former Uttarakhand chief minister, a day before Charanjit Singh Channi (65), a Sikh Dalit leader, was sworn in as the Chief Minister that he can't reconcile to the loss of the position for which he had struggled so much.

He wanted to quit the day Channi was sworn in, but decided otherwise after Rawat assured him that the Gandhis want to contest the Punjab Assembly elections due early next year only under his leadership.

He, however, became upset when Rahul Gandhi told him that he should compromise and work in tandem with Channi. That was the trigger from him to resign as the PCC president, according to his wife, also an MLA.

AMBIKA SABOTAGED: Sidhu was banking on the Gandhi siblings to give him the reins of Punjab as the chief minister. His prospects were reportedly undermined by veteran former Union minister Ambika Soni (78) who told Rahul that Sidhu was a fine entertainer but not CM material, more so since the state had been ruled thus far by an experienced Amarinder Singh.

She even rejected the name of Sunil Jakhar (67) from whom Sidhu acquired the Punjab Congress presidentship, on the ground that he was a Hindu whom the Sikhs won't accept as the chief minister. It was on her advice that Charanjit Singh Channi (65), a Sikh Dalit, was made the chief minister as she said Punjab should have only a Sikh chief minister, as has been its history since the formation of the state.

On the day of the swearing-in of Channi, Jakhar had reacted strongly in a tweet, protesting against Rawat saying that "elections will be fought under Sidhu," saying such a statement is baffling as it undermines the new CM's authority but also negates the very ‘raison d’être’ of his selection for this position.

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Published on: Tuesday, September 28, 2021, 10:59 PM IST