August 24, 2020 10:58:31 pm
A letter by 23 senior leaders to AICC interim president Sonia Gandhi seeking sweeping changes in the party evoked reactions from most of the Congress leaders across the country, but former Punjab minister and star campaigner Navjot Singh Sidhu has maintained a studied silence on the controversy.
While Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and PPCC chief Sunil Kumar Jakhar were quick to support Gandhi and defend senior party leader Rahul Gandhi, neither Sidhu nor his wife Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu came out in the support of the Gandhi family.
His silence holds significance as Rahul and his general secretary sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have always backed Sidhu even in the face of strong opposition by Amarinder. Sidhu has also often called himself a loyal soldier of Gandhis.
Also, sources in the Congress indicate that the high command was working towards getting Sidhu back in the mainstream. Sidhu had been keeping away from politics since July last year. He had resurfaced for a day during the opening of Kartarpur Corridor in November and later when Covid pandemic broke out.
The AICC is holding back the reorganisation of the PPCC to ensure that Sidhu gets a prominent position either in the government or the party organisation. He has been considered for the post of PPCC chief, campaign committee chief and even in the Cabinet, sources indicate. It, however, remains to be seen how the high command would help Sidhu and Amarinder bury the hatchet as both will eventually need to work together.
A senior Congress leader said that the high command wanted him to be back in mainstream politics of party. “He is considered a popular leader. If you go to the villages, people still talk about him. Most of the MLAs realise this. Not utilising his popularity could cost the party dear and this fact is reckoned by the high command. So, they will try to bring him back in the scene”.
However, Sidhu’s silence has left many party leaders baffled. “Gandhis back him all the time. They brought him in the party. They have always given him a patient hearing even when many of the leaders were unable to meet them. At the same time he has also campaigned extensively for them. Their mutual admiration is known but he is keeping quiet. He did not speak up before or after the CWC,” said a party leader.
Amarinder had divested Sidhu of Local Bodies portfolio after Lok Sabha elections citing poor performance. He was handed Power department. Sidhu had, however, resigned from the Cabinet. Ever since he had been staying away, not attending any meetings or even the Vidhan Sabha sessions.
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