With Congress general secretary incharge for Punjab, Harish Rawat, being perceived to be backing former Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu strongly and raising doubts on the working of PPCC, knives are out in Punjab Congress with state chief Sunil Jakhar saying that he is ready to step down from his post if the party wants to get a new state president.
Talking to The Indian Express, Jakhar said, “I am willing to step down. You can get yourself a new president who could rejuvenate the party and galvanise the workers.”
He was referring to Rawat raising doubts on the working of the PPCC saying that the party organisation had not worked enough to strengthen the party.
Upset over Rawat’s remarks, Jakhar went on to add, “I wish I had not learnt about his (Rawat’s) opinion about PPCC in the newspapers.”
Reacting to Rawat, he said, “I hope you have discussed your apprehensions with former AICC president Rahul Gandhi and interim president Sonia Gandhi. There is still a year left to elections. The party is supreme and I will be very happy if someone can strengthen it. I remember in a recent CLP meeting, he (Rawat) had himself told the leaders that if they wanted to discuss anything related to party, it should be at a party platform. He had said he did not want to be surprised to see anything related to this in the newspapers. Coming from there, I hope he has discussed the PPCC with the high command.”
He added: “Please get the PPCC reshuffle done without any delay. I am not the one who is hankering about any party position. For me, party’s interests are supreme.”
Jakhar had resigned after his defeat in Lok Sabha elections from Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat when Rahul Gandhi was the president. Later, after taking over as interim president Sonia Gandhi had rejected his resignation. Later, the PPCC organisation was dissolved.
Besides Jakhar, Cabinet minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa too hit out at former Cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Friday when he said if the party names Sidhu the next PPCC chief “he (Randhawa) will go low profile.”
Rawat has been strongly backing Sidhu. On Thursday, he had called Sidhu a “Rafale” who was Congress party’s “weapon” in the next election.
Clearly, Rawat backing Sidhu strongly is not going down well with some leaders in the state Congress.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has already made it clear that Sidhu could not be the PPCC chief, as he had joined the Congress only three years ago.
On Friday, it was the turn of Randhawa, who said he was “hurt” at Sidhu’s behaviour and body language with him at the party’s stage during Rahul Gandhi’s presence.
Hitting out at Sidhu, he said, “I am hurt and sad at his behaviour and body language. He gave me this treatment even when I had stood by him when Akalis used to be cornering him.” Randhawa was earlier considered close to Sidhu.
“He is such an unpredictable person. I have learnt my lessons never to stand up for such an unpredictable person,” he added.
Randhawa said: “With his behaviour Sidhu has not insulted me or the CM, but the high command. I am a minister, my father remained a minister, my grandfather was in Congress. I am a third generation dyed-in-wool Congressmen. The leaders who come from other parties should not insult dyed-in-wool Congressmen.”
Referring to the incident when he handed Sidhu a slip to hurry up on Rahul’s rally stage, he added: “It happened for the first time in the history of the party that such an honour was extended to a leader. The party affairs incharge went to his house, brought him in his car. The person did not even respect Rawat sahib, who sent him the slip to wind up.”
About Rawat indicating an important position will be given to Sidhu, Randhawa said, “If PPCC president is to be replaced no debate is done like this. The Congress always sends the orders and it is done.”
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