A day after Congress general secretary in-charge Harish Rawat placated former Cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, all eyes are on him as speculations are on about his new role in the Congress.
Sidhu had been pushed to the fringes ever since he resigned from Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s Cabinet in July last year. He has not been seen on any party platform, but after Rawat meeting him in Amritsar on Thursday, he will be seen during AICC former president Rahul Gandhi’s three-day tractor rally.
Rahul will be taking out a three-day tractor rally on from October 4 onwards. Earlier it was scheduled from October 3 but was postponed by a day on Friday.
The Congress camp is abuzz that Rawat would have promised a new role for Sidhu in the party. A Congress leader said, “It is not possible that Sidhu, who was holding his programmes without Congress flags, would have agreed to join Congress stir without any promise.”
Rawat’s statement to the media soon after Thursday meeting that “Sidhu was the future of Congress in Punjab” has also created quite a stir in the party. Rawat, it is learnt, has been telling Congress leaders in his meetings with them that Sidhu would be made the PPCC chief or a deputy CM. Rawat’s remarks on Sidhu being the future of the Congress are being seen in the light of his revelations to leaders in the meetings.
In the Chief Minister’s camp, however, sources say that Amarinder was not in favour of getting Sidhu appointed as PPCC chief. Also, he has refused to hand him any department other than the power department. Sidhu had already refused to accept Power and insisted that he got his Local Bodies Department back. Amarinder had withdrawn the department from him after citing non-performance that had cost the party dear in Lok Sabha elections in urban areas.
“Knowing Sidhu, he would never agree to join the Cabinet as a Power Minister. Hence, the stand-off will continue. The party will have to find a solution. Or maybe they will wait for some more months to make an announcement about him ahead of next elections,” a leader said.
Amarinder too appeared to have softened on Sidhu as during a virtual inauguration of rural stadiums on Friday, Amarinder named Sidhu and hockey Olympian Pargat Singh and said both of these people had immense contribution to the country in the field of sports.
The Congress camp also believes that Sidhu’s options were limited. He cannot cosy up to BJP now considering the saffron party’s stock going down in the state after farm legislations. “No leader would look at BJP in these circumstances. AAP also does not seem to be getting any traction. Sidhu would never go to SAD. The strongest option he has would be to stay with Congress. Let us see how it happens,” a leader quipped.
RAWAT CALLS BAJWA
On the placating exercise to make Rahul’s tractor rally a success, Rawat on Friday called up Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa and invited him to the Congress show. Bajwa has been a dissenting voice of the Congress in the recent past. He had not attended party’s dharna at Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh’s native Khatkar Kalan village. Bajwa said he would be participating in the tractor rally. Rawat, however, has not called another Rajya Sabha MP Shamsher Dullo yet.
WHO WILL BE ON TRACTOR
The party is also watching curiously as to who all would be on the tractor with Rahul during his stir in the state beginning Sunday. While PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar has already stated that Rahul would drive the tractor and Amarinder and Rawat would flank him as a tractor can seat only three, the state unit is keen on watching how Sidhu would be presented in the stir.
“We will keep taking turns on the tractor. There would be three days and enough opportunities for everyone to be seen with Rahul,” a leader said.
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