Chandigarh: It is not just Navjot Singh Sidhu or his advisers alone that Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh is grappling with. There is also a growing list of dissidents within the Congress party, including a few in his cabinet who are seeking his scalp.
The captain’s over-dependence on bureaucrats, rather than ministers and party legislators, has led many to publicly announce their displeasure. Apart from the political impact, administratively too, the concentration of power in a few hands seems to be taking its toll now.
Partymen are angry for his being ‘soft’ towards the Akalis in the opposition, particularly when it comes to moving against the former revenue minister, Bikram Singh Majithia, over his alleged involvement in drug smuggling, as well as former CM Parkash Singh Badal’s family. The unresolved issue of sacrilege too is being touted as another reason to seek the removal of the former soldier.
When the AICC in-charge for Punjab affairs, Harish Rawat, comes to Chandigarh on Wednesday, not only will he have to resolve the issue of the controversial remarks by Sidhu’s advisers but will also have to meet the ministers and legislators demanding Amarinder’s removal as chief minister. Many of them happen to be Sidhu’s supporters.
“We have lost faith in Amarinder,” Technical Education Minister Charanjit Singh Channi said, claiming to be echoing the sentiments of his colleagues in the cabinet.
“The Congress party will be wiped out in the next polls. We have nothing to show to the people. We need a new chief minister who listens to his own partymen,” another legislator surmised.
The growing rebellion against Amarinder may not harm his position at present, as he still enjoys majority support among party legislators, but the list is growing every day.
Amarinder supporters, however, insist the party has no other leader with the same charisma as Amarinder. “The Congress is Amarinder in Punjab and Amarinder is the Congress. He can leave the party, float his own and win any poll,” a loyalist legislator claimed.
In 2017, Amarinder led the Congress in the assembly elections and was able to overcome the challenge posed by Aam Aadmi Party to register a remarkable landslide win for the party.
The knives are out in Punjab and it is going to be some time before truce is enforced, leaving the field open for next year’s polls.