Updated: January 5, 2022 3:19:37 pm
The Congress high command on Tuesday called four Cabinet ministers and one MP to Delhi to discuss the way forward amid a push by PPCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu to be named as the party’s CM face.
Four Cabinet ministers led by Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa met AICC general secretary K C Venugopal in Delhi and are learnt to have told him that an undeterred Sidhu needs to be tamed or the party might end up paying a heavy electoral price in the forthcoming polls.
The Cabinet ministers, who accompanied Randhawa, included Sidhu’s aide Pargat Singh, Bharat Bhushan Ashu and Amrinder Singh Raja Warring. Fatehgarh Sahib MP Dr Amar Singh was also a part of the delegation that met Venugopal.
The five leaders were called by Venugopal for a meeting in Delhi.
Sources told The Indian Express after the meeting that the party high command “was in a way weighing its options with regards to Sidhu”.
A source said, “The high command is interested to know what would be more detrimental to the party — his utterances or his removal as PPCC chief.”
He added, “Most of the leaders who met Venugopal did not support Sidhu openly. At one point, they were even asked if Sidhu would switch off his phone amid campaign close to the election then would any leader be able to placate him. The answer was negative. The ministers said Pargat, Raja Warring and Dr Amar Singh had met him recently but their meeting had no effect on Sidhu.”
Meanwhile, Randhawa and Ashu are among the ministers who have already opened a front against Sidhu publicly. Besides, another Cabinet minister, Rana Gurjit Singh, has also hit out at Sidhu.
On Tuesday, the delegation of ministers is learnt to have told Venugopal that unless Gandhis ask Sidhu to hold his horses, he would not stop.
Congress leaders also discussed how Sidhu was going around dropping hints in the media that either he should be declared the CM candidate or else he would not campaign for the party.
On Monday, Sidhu went ahead and made announcements about honorarium of Rs 2000 per month and eight free cylinders to homemakers. The development created a furore in the party as the issue was discussed in campaign committee meeting of Congress on Sunday and when Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi had sought time from colleagues for discussing it with Finance Department, Sidhu made the poll promise a day later while the matter was still under consideration.
While the ministers, who met Venugopal Tuesday, said that they had gone to Delhi to discuss party’s strategy ahead of elections and to give their departmental report card, and denied that they had discussed Sidhu, sources said most part of the meeting was about the PPCC chief.
Significantly, Pargat Singh and Raja Warring are considered close to Sidhu. But Sidhu had recently not participated in Pargat’s rally at Jalandhar. It is learnt that he had not even answered Pargat’s calls after making a promise that he would be participating in the rally.
“They are considered close. But what would one do if Sidhu is undeterred. He has been advised but he is going all guns blazing. Even today, he was on so many TV channels repeating the same things. He is making the Chief Minister look bad. What would anyone do if he is not controlling himself? They would obviously go to the high command,” a Congress leader said.
Randhawa, sources said, is now lobbying for the post of PPCC chief now. On Monday, he had stated that he was ready to quit as Home Minister and leave the post at Sidhu’s feet.
Interestingly, Randhawa was among the ministers, who had launched a rebellion against former CM Amarinder Singh also.
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