After meet with Rahul Gandhi, Amarinder Singh softens stand

Congress says door open for Navjot Singh Sidhu

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh | Updated: October 27, 2016 2:18 pm
Congress, Rahul Gandhi, Amarinder Singh, Navjot Singh Sidhu, AAP, Arvind Kejriwal, punjab polls, polls 2017, elections 2017, assembly elections, india news Congress leader Amarinder Singh. (File Photo)

With cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu’s Awaaz-e-Punjab still weighing their options on whether to go with Congress or AAP ahead of the 2017 assembly polls, Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh Monday seemed to have soften his stand.

A mellowed Amarinder, who had termed the Awaaz-e-Punjab a “Tonga Party” and a “few days old party who could not dictate terms to 120-year-old Congress,” Monday, however, said he “has no reservations whatsoever with Sidhu and other leaders of Awaaz-e-Punjab joining the Congress.”

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Amarinder had met AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi in Delhi on Friday. Before the meeting, he had repeatedly said that Sidhu’s party was not in touch with the Congress even as sources in the party maintained that a senior Delhi-based Congress politician was in talks with them.

On Sunday, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal had told media that AAP too was in touch with Sidhu’s party. The Awaaz-e-Punjab will meet in Delhi on Wednesday for another round of talks to decide on their future.

Amarinder, who was in Patiala today, said he had always maintained that Sidhu and all other politicians aligned to Congress policies were welcome to join the party.

“I don’t know why I’m being asked this question repeatedly. My stand on the issue had been clear from the beginning. In fact, I was the one who told Sidhu, when he left the BJP, that he should join the Congress,” Amarinder was quoted saying in a statement issued by PPCC.

“Whether it’s Sidhu or the Bains brothers or Pargat Singh Bhatia, the doors of my party have always been open to them,” Amarinder said, adding that these were people who had their roots in the Congress and could not possibly remain away from the party from long.

Amarinder said, “Eventually, the interests of party is supreme. And if party is strengthened by the joining of like-minded people, we can only gain.”

Meanwhile, Ludhiana MP and member of Awaaz-e-Punjab Simarjit Singh Bains while referring to a ‘nexus’ between Amarinder and CM Parkash Singh Badal, said, “Our resolve is only getting stronger that we would not go with a carbon-copy of Badal.” The outfit has already issued a joint statement that they were in talks with Congress but would not go with Amarinder-led state unit.

On the other hand, the Congress is abuzz with reports that Amarinder was told that the party was open to team up with Sidhu. His predecessor Partap Singh Bajwa also favoured Sidhu’s inclusion. On which a senior Congress leader on anonymity said Bajwa could not be emphatically saying all this without taking a senior party leader into confidence.