February 26, 2021 11:33:11 am
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s bete noire and former Cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu chose to skip the lunch thrown by the CM to his party colleagues on the occasion of wedding of his granddaughter Seherinder Kaur, at his farm house, Mohinder Bagh, at Parol village near here.
The wedding will take place on February 28. While Sidhu was conspicuous by his absence, his another sworn rival, and Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa, participated in the function, accompanied by his wife and former MLA, Charanjeet Kaur Bajwa, and their son.
Party general secretary and Punjab affairs incharge Harish Rawat and PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar were a part of the pre-wedding celebrations. Former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda was also among those present. Himachal Pradesh MLA and former Punjab affairs incharge Asha Kumari also attended the function.
Except Water Resources Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, who tested positive on Thursday, and Transport Minister Razia Sultana, all other Cabinet ministers were a part of the function. About 60 MLAs were also present.
While Bajwa’s presence came as a surprise for the party men, as Bajwa has opened a front against Amarinder for a long time now, Sidhu’s absence, especially after he met the CM over lunch at the latter’s residence a couple of weeks ago, conveyed a message that everything was not well between the duo.
The earlier lunch meeting, amid efforts by Harish Rawat to bridge the gap between them, could not bring warmth in the relationship shared by the duo.
The latest developments in the Congress, including an announcement by PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar that Amarinder would be the face of the party in 2022 elections, was a veiled message to Sidhu. The cricketer- turned-politician had met AICC interim president Sonia Gandhi a few days ago, and later Harish Rawat had also met Amarinder.
It is learnt that the high command wanted to name Sidhu the next PPCC chief.
Bajwa, who has been criticising Amarinder, and went to the extent of seeking a CBI probe from the Governor in the hooch tragedy that killed over 100 in the state, gave food for thought within the party that this could mean new alignments.
While all the party MPs attended the lunch, MP Ravneet Singh Bittu could not attend it as he has been sitting on a dharna against farm
laws at Jantar Mantar in Delhi.
No Opposition leader was present at the party.
PARGAT ALSO ABSENT
The pre-wedding function was not spared of politics, where not only Sidhu was conspicuous by his absence, his close aide and Jalandhar (Cantt) MLA Pargat Singh too was missing from the function. He not only skipped the lunch but also raised questions on the working of the government led by Amarinder.
Pargat Singh, who is a hockey Olympian, made a statement on a TV channel that Amarinder’s performance in the last four years has not been “as good”. “The performance has not been as good. His (Amarinder’s) capability to deliver is much more. People will think whether they will vote this time or not. In 2017, people had voted for him because he was considered a strong leader because of his image for termination of the water Act.”
He said, “Sidhu is a good man. I am in touch with him.”
On Jakhar’s statement that Amarinder would be the face of the Congress in 2022 elections, Pargat Singh said, “This announcement is Jakhar’s own opinion. I think this kind of announcement is the prerogative of the party high command.”
JAKHAR CLIMBS DOWN
Reacting to Pargat Singh’s statement, Jakhar said he never said that Amarinder would be the CM in 2022. “I launched Captain for 2022. This means that 2022 election would be fought under the leadership of Captain Amarinder Singh.”
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