May 13, 2021 9:14:24 am
Two days after three ministers and two MPs closed ranks to form a pressure group within Congress over SIT probe in the post-sacrilege firing case, one among them, Gurpreet Singh Kangar, issued a statement attacking former Cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu for his tirade against Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
Kangar was among the five leaders, including Sukhjinder Randhawa, Charanjeet Channi, Partap Bajwa and Ravneet Bittu, had got together Monday fuelling speculation about rising dissent within the party.
On Wednesday, he issued a joint statement with a separate group, seeking strong disciplinary action by the party high command against Navjot Sidhu.
“Sidhu’s provocative and targeted attacks on Amarinder over the past several days were an invitation for disaster for the Congress,” said a statement by Balbir Sidhu, Vijay Inder Singla, Bharat Bhushan Ashu and Gurpreet Singh Kangar. The statement did not rule out collusion between Sidhu and state opposition parties, such as AAP and BJP.
It was quite possible, they said, that Sidhu’s targeted attacks on the Chief Minister were instigated by the AAP or BJP leaders to create problems in the Punjab Congress to further their electoral agenda in the state.
“This manner in which Sidhu had launched the offensive against the state government, particularly Capt Amarinder, suggested a conspiracy against the Chief Minister,” they added.
The statement by these four ministers comes two days after three of their colleagues had also launched a counter-offensive against Sidhu.
In the latest attack on Sidhu, the group of four ministers, including Kangar, said the Congress MLA’s verbal assaults on Amarinder on sacrilege and other issues amounted to open rebellion against the party.
Terming Sidhu’s blatant defiance as an act of total indiscipline, the ministers said such anti-party activities cannot be tolerated by any political establishment, and more so in a state headed for elections. “He should be immediately suspended, if not expelled, as his continued presence in Punjab Congress was creating a mess in the party’s state unit and diverting its attention from the more important task of gearing up for the polls,” they added.
The ministers accused Sidhu of “totally lacking in team spirit” and “biting the hand that feeds him”.
“He is nothing but a trouble-maker whose contribution to the Congress and the state government in Punjab in all these years has been virtually nil,” the ministers said, questioning the rationale behind allowing him to continue in the Congress at a time when the party was preparing for the next Assembly elections in Punjab and the state government was battling an unprecedented Covid crisis.
Citing Amarinder’s open challenge to Sidhu to contest against him from Patiala instead of raving and ranting against him publicly, the ministers said the MLA should quit the Congress and pit his self-proclaimed might against that of the Chief Minister if he really believed in his own political prowess. Attacking the Chief Minister on social media can hardly be termed as an endorsement of his political clout or popularity, they quipped.
Kangar was not available for comments.
Pro-CM leaders meet over dinner
After four minister’s statement in support of CM, a dinner meeting of three Cabinet Ministers including Balbir Sidhu, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa and Sukhbinder Sarkaria, at MLA Sukhpal Bhullar’s official residence Wednesday , along with four other MLAs evoked interest in the political circles amid a tug of war on between the Congress leaders.
While Bajwa said that it was a get together, organised by Bhullar, the Congress camp saw it as a meeting of leaders siding with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. Bajwa said they had got together after an invitation by Bhullar. He said Bhullar often invited them to his house.
A few others in Congress said that it was unlikely that they had a party as Bhullar is another party MLA Kulbir Singh Zira’s next door neighbour. Zira had lost his ex-minister father Inderjit Singh Zira on Wednesday morning, who was cremated in the afternoon.
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