Tribune News Service
Amritsar, July 20
The newly-appointed president of Punjab Congress, Navjot Singh Sidhu, was given an overwhelming welcome by the Amritsar unit of the party at the Golden Gate—the entrance of the holy city.
However, a set of prominent Congress leaders, aligned to CM Capt. Amarinder Singh kept away from the reception.
Sidhu’s supporters, the majority from the East constituency he represented as a lawmaker, eagerly awaited his arrival at 1 pm despite the inclement weather conditions till he finally arrived at around 3 pm.
The crowd surrounded his vehicle, raising slogans and danced on the dhol beats and burst firecrackers to celebrate his elevation. The scenes were reminiscent of 2004 when he arrived in the city from Lahore to kick start his maiden political innings for Parliament elections on a BJP ticket.
Normal life was paralysed in the city for a while with a long traffic jam on the national highway as people stopped their vehicles to catch a glimpse of Sidhu. The BRTS route too remained disrupted for a few hours.
Attired in a purple colour Pathani suit and supporting matching turban and scarf, Sidhu came out from the sunroof of his vehicle and waved at the crowd throughout his roadshow despite the fact that he injured his right foot thumbnail during a gathering at Khatkar Kalan. He got medical aid at Amandeep Hospital on the way only to continue his journey. He shook hands with supporters, accepting siropas, bouquets and garlands. Congress urban president Jatinder Sonia jumped over his car’s bonnet to greet him.
Ironically, no local MLA was present at the Golden Gate to receive Sidhu. MLA South Inderbir Singh Bolaria and MLA Amritsar West Raj Kumar Verka joined Sidhu from Chandigarh to Amritsar. MLA North Sunil Dutti met Sidhu at his residence. too joined Sidhu’s journey but left midway.
Before reaching Amritsar, Sidhu was welcomed by Jandiala Guru MLA Sukhwinder Singh Danny Bandala, who is among the four working presidents of the PPCC. Fatehgarh MLA Kuljeet Nagra and Congress Youth president Birinder Singh Dhillon also accompanied Sidhu till Jandiala from where they returned.
Others who participated in the occasion included and MLA Nawanshehr Angad Singh, MLA Khem Karan Sukhpal Singh Bhullar and Sukhjinder Raj Singh (Lalli Majithia).
However, Amritsar Improvement Trust chairperson Dinesh Bassi and Mayor Karamjit Singh Rintu missed the appointment for the day, yet senior deputy mayor Raman Bakshi had registered his presence for the occasion.
Bassi and Rintu too were considered to be Capt. Amarinder’s loyalists. Ironically, their appointments were made without taking Sidhu, then holding Local Bodies charge, into confidence. Amidst a tiff between Capt and Sidhu, Rintu had also installed hoardings showing open solidarity in favour of Capt. Amarinder. Both could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.
Another prominent leader and Cabinet minister OP Soni were also conspicuous by his absence. Insiders said that friction between Sidhu and Soni still prevailed though they had reached a compromise after changed political equations.
Congress rural president Bhagwant Pal Singh Sachchar said that the Majha leaders would join Sidhu while together they would pay obeisance at the Golden Temple, Durgiana Mandir and Ram Tirath Asthan tomorrow.
Nonetheless, Sidhu’s cavalcade culminated at his home located in the posh Holy City locality of Amritsar. Sidhu along with his wife Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu had shifted to their Patiala residence for the past several months.
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