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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

In first outing as PCC chief, a welcome Sidhu wouldn’t have wanted: protest by farmers

Sohan Singh Athwal of the Kirti Kisan Union said they had no plans to ‘gherao’ the new chief of the Punjab Congress. He said the farmers only wanted to lodge their protest over the alleged failure of various political parties, including the Congress, to come to their rescue.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba , Kamaldeep Singh Brar | Amritsar, Jalandhar |
July 21, 2021 5:51:21 am
Police personnel try to prevent farmers from showing black flags to newly appointed Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu during his visit in Nawanshahr, Tuesday. (Photo: PTI)

Amid a protest by farmers, newly appointed Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu on Tuesday visited Khatkar Kalan, the ancestral village of Bhagat Singh in Nawanshahr, to pay tributes to the freedom fighter at his memorial. Sidhu later reached Amritsar where he was accorded a rousing welcome by his supporters and party leaders.

During the visit to Nawanshahr, Sidhu was accompanied by MLAs Kuljit Singh Nagra, who is one of the four working presidents appointed by the Congress, Raj Kumar Verka, Angad Saini, Sukhpal Bhullar, Inderbir Singh Bolaria, Gurpreet Singh GP and Chaudhary Darshan Lal Mangupur. Youth Congress president Barinder Singh Dhillon was also present.

Talking to the media, Sidhu again talked about the 18-point agenda, which he said will make the state prosperous again.

“The 18-point programme given by the Congress high command will make every Punjabi a shareholder and the power given by the people will be returned to them in the shape of development and prosperity,” Sidhu said.

He said he had come to Khatkar Kalan “to seek direction from the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the nation” and “to awaken the spirit of truth and rights among every Punjabi”.

Meanwhile, a group of farmers representing the Kirti Kisan Union later blocked traffic for half an hour after they were not allowed to meet Sidhu.

Sohan Singh Athwal of the Kirti Kisan Union said they had no plans to ‘gherao’ the new chief of the Punjab Congress. He said the farmers only wanted to lodge their protest over the alleged failure of various political parties, including the Congress, to come to their rescue.

Athwal said the farmers wanted to question Sidhu. Traffic was blocked as police ensured Sidhu’s exit from another route, he added. After paying tributes to Bhagat Singh, Sidhu headed towards Amritsar. On way, Punjab Agro Industries Corporation chairman Joginder Singh Mann welcomed him in Phagwara. “Sidhu’s appointment has infused a new spirit among the Congress cadres and it is writing on wall that Congress will form government in 2022,” said Mann, a former Punjab minister.

In Amritsar, a large gathering of party workers welcomed Sidhu. After his elevation, this was Sidhu’s first visit to city, from where he represents Amritsar East Assembly segment. Ofthe four other Congress MLAs from Amritsar, three – Inderbir Singh Bolaria, Raj Kumar Verka and Sunil Dutti – turned up for the Sidhu’s welcome at Golden Gate entry point. Verka and Dutti are considered to be from the camp led by CM Amarinder Singh.

Amritsar Central MLA and Punjab Cabinet minister O P Soni remained absent. Captain loyalist and Amritsar Mayor Karamjit Singh Rintu also stayed away.

From Golden Gate, Sidhu took out a five-odd kilometre roadshow to his local residence with party workers following him on foot and on vehicles amid shouting of slogans.

“What a heart-warming welcome accorded by people and Congress workers to Sidhu…The echo of slogans and floral showers symbolise the enthusiasm and immense love of the people for Punjab Congress and it being their true voice,” wrote Bolaria on his Facebook page.

“Today’s show of strength by Sidhu on Amritsar roads has reminded us the day when he had come to Amritsar after joining Congress just before Punjab Assembly elections in 2017. On that day too entire Amritsar Congress had turned up to welcome him. His joining had defiantly helped Congress party in making clean sweep in city in 2017. We are hopeful that he will be next CM of Punjab,” said a local Congress leader Darmanjit Singh.

Sidhu will go on the tour of Tarn Taran villages on Wednesday.

“Sidhu will reach Khemkaran Assembly constituency on Wednesday. He will be received at village Algo Kothi. All Congress workers are requested to reach to extend a grand welcome to Sidhu,” posted Congress MLA from Khemkaran, Sukhpal Bhullar.

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