Punjab Congress crisis: Battle lines harden, party MPs strategise on Navjot Singh Sidhu’s role

Parties that are alive have differences; a dead party would not have differences: Partap Bajwa

Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, July 18

The Punjab Congress appeared to plunge deeper into a crisis on Sunday as battle lines hardened on the expected appointment of MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu as state unit president and Congress MPs meet in order to strategise on the matter.

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“I fear for the worst if this happens,” a senior Congress leader and MP told The Tribune ahead of the crucial meeting of the MPs at the residence of former state chief Partap Singh Bajwa in the National Capital.

AICC Punjab in-charge Harish Rawat with CM Capt Amarinder Singh in Mohali. Tribune Photos

“There is too much anger and angst over what is happening. The way one leader is being rammed on us is unacceptable. Obviously, there are larger issues of whether this can be condoned,” said an MP from pro-Chief Minister Amarinder Singh camp.

MP Manish Tewari last night tweeted, saying Partap Bajwa and CM would make a great team for the future.

Tewari today said party’s internal issues will be raised on internal platforms.

After Congress Punjab MPs conclude the meet, they said they will move adjournment notions in Parliament on farmers’ issues and had gathered to discuss Punjab related pressing issues, including farmers' agitation, Covid vaccine supplies, delayed GST compensation to the state.

On Sidhu, Tewari said it’s an internal matter and will be raised at party platforms

Partap Bajwa on Sidhu said, “Parties that are alive have differences. A dead party would not have differences.”

The CM camp strategy now is to ask party chief Sonia Gandhi why Bajwa, a diehard Congressman, should not be made state chief if indeed a Jat Sikh leader like Sidhu is being considered for the role.

Navjot Singh Sidhu met Rajya Sabha MP Partap Bajwa.

“Sidhu’s appointment will rile a lot of people whose families have sacrificed their lives for the cause of sovereignty. No one can forget that Sidhu has warm ties with Pakistan PM Imran Khan and has publicly hugged Pakistan Army Chief when the Kartarpur corridor issue concluded. Pakistan has exported terror to Punjab. How will the Hindus react to Sidhus’s role? The party has to factor in this,” said another MP.

MPs Ravneet Bittu and Gurjeet Aujla today asked why Bajwa can’t be the state chief.

Navjot Singh Sidhu (3rd from R) flanked by MLAs (from left) Barindermeet Singh Pahra, Raja Warring, Davinder Ghubaya, Pritam Kotbhai and Darshan Brar, and minister Sukhjinder Randhawa in Chandigarh on Saturday. Tribune Photos

The MPs will now strategise about the way forward and many believe the party is in a very fragile state in Punjab over the way Sidhu’s appointment issue has been handled.

The CM has conveyed his previous reservations on Sidhu’s appointment to Sonia and has left the decision to her saying what she says would be acceptable.

But hours after he said this yesterday, CM met Bajwa and others at a meeting coordinated by Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana KP, in signs that the CM was in no mood to patch up with Sidhu.

The situation on the Punjab Congress revamp remains fluid and uncertain with both camps exerting pressure on Sonia Gandhi.

In a statement released on today, party leader Sukhpal Khaira, claiming support of 10 Congress MLAs, urged the party high command not to let down Capt Amarinder Singh “due to whose unrelenting efforts the party stands well entrenched in Punjab”.

In a joint statement issued by Khaira, the MLAs said there was no doubt that the appointment of state PPCC chief was the prerogative of the party high command but at the same time, washing dirty linen in public has only decreased the party graph during the last couple of months.

Navjot Singh Sidhu reached at the MLA Madanlal Jalalpur’s residence in Patiala on Sunday

Meanwhile, Navjot Singh Sidhu, along with six other MLAs, including Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, arrived at the MLA Madanlal Jalalpur’s residence in Patiala on Sunday. A large number of their supporters and party workers were also present.

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