Two days after AICC general secretary incharge Harish Rawat called him a “Rafale” and party’s “weapon” for next elections, former Cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu was not included in the list of 30 star campaigners for upcoming Bihar Assembly election.
The Congress released the list on Saturday. While Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s name is included along with other Congress Chief Ministers, Sidhu, whose name created an upheaval in the Punjab Congress in the recent days, is missing from the list.
The development is seen differently by different circles in the state unit of the party. While his exclusion has meant celebrations for a group of Congress leaders, who said he was not included in the list of star campaigners after his “behaviour” on former AICC president Rahul Gandhi’s stage during the latter’s three-day tractor rally, another group of party leaders said the development did not mean much.
Rawat’s statements lauding Sidhu ever since he took over as party affairs incharge have rattled many Congress leaders. His praise and gestures for Sidhu, especially going to his house and bringing him along for Rahul’s show, have not gone down well with certain party leaders. Rawat has been indicating that Sidhu would get an important role in the party in the coming days.
“After ruining Rahul Gandhi’s show, the party has now realised what he could do to their other shows. That is why his name is not there,” a senior party leader said on anonymity.
“The party has now realised that he is a dangerous weapon. He may be a Rafale as Rawat sahib has put it but he is more of an aircraft that throws bombs on his own house/organisation. Weapons are needed for a war in only 20-30 years. We will use the Rafale then. But why blast everything before that? Look at the way he behaved on the stage that day. He pushed Cabinet Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa who had invited him to speak. Then he was very insulting in his behaviour. It was Randhawa sahib who did not say anything because he did not want the show of the party to be spoiled. Otherwise, he could have done anything,” said Ravneet Bittu, Congress MP from Ludhiana.
There are many others who have heaved a sigh of relief that Sidhu has been excluded. “Look at the way the party general secretary incharge went about putting up a united show. He was brought to the stage somehow and thereafter he did not come for two days. He created such circumstances that Rahul Gandhi’s visit to support farmers was marred by a controversy involving Sidhu,” Bittu added.
While Sidhu was not available for comment, a party leader said that Sidhu was excluded from the list as his pro-Pakistan stand may not augur well with the voters of Bihar, a Hindu heartland. Also, a case was already registered against Sidhu at Katihar of Bihar during the 2019 Lok Sabha election. The Bihar Police was camping in Amritsar in June this year but Sidhu had refused to meet them. A party leader said if the Bihar Police starts chasing Sidhu there while campaigning, it could become an embarrassment for the party.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines