Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu Thursday appointed former DGP Mohammad Mustafa as his principal strategic advisor, days after the retired IPS officer had left him red-faced by declining the cricketer-turned-politician’s offer to appoint him as one of his four advisors. This time, Mustafa accepted the offer and the post.
“Mohd Mustafa is hereby appointed as the principal strategic advisor to the PPCC president, the undersigned, Navjot Singh Sidhu with immediate effect. He would act as a PCC coordinator with the AICC on issues pertaining to his domain and any other matters that the president may deem fit,” a statement issued by Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee said.
Earlier, Sidhu went to Mustafa’s house in Panchkula and handed him the appointment letter. Sources said Sidhu called on Mustafa and prevailed upon the retired IPS officer to work with him. Mustafa did not respond to media calls but it is learnt that he accepted the offer, as Sidhu posted pictures with Mustafa and his wife Razia Sultana holding the appointment letter on Twitter.
Love to be associated with Razia Ji and Mustafa sahib pic.twitter.com/kq2GbCmbcF
— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) August 19, 2021
“Love to be associated with Razia Ji and Mustafa sahib,” Sidhu said in a tweet.
Razia Sultana is a minister in Chief Minister Capt Amarider Singh’s cabinet.
Besides Mustafa, Sidhu on August 11 had appointed three other advisors — Lok Sabha MP Amar Singh, former registrar of Faridkot-based Baba Farid University of Health Sciences Pyare Lal Garg, and former government teacher Malvinder Singh Mali.
However, within minutes Mustafa had messaged Sidhu that he did not want to take any political job at the moment, as he was not cut out for it.
Sources, in the know of the development, had later said that Mustafa was unhappy at being bracketed with the three others. The course correction by Sidhu was finally done on Thursday.
Mustafa was once considered very close to Amarinder Singh. The CM used to often dine at Mustafa’s place. They fell apart after Dinkar Gupta was appointed as the Punjab Police chief. Mustafa along with another IPS officer Siddharth Chattopadhyaya had challenged Gupta’s appointment in 2019. The state government had appointed Gupta as the Punjab DGP, suppressing the seniority of other IPS officers, including Mustafa.
The former DGP is now a strong supporter of Sidhu, who visited the former’s residence thrice after taking over as the PPCC chief.
Sidhu has already appointed Jalandhar Cantonment MLA Pargat Singh as PPCC general secretary (organisation). The cricketer-turned-politician had on Wednesday also appointed two media advisors — Jagtar Singh Sidhu and Surinder Dalla.
Meanwhile, Mali, one of Sidhu’s advisors, Mali, continued with his social media rants, creating new headaches for the state Congress chief. On Wednesday, Mali wrote in a Facebook post that Kashmir was a separate country — the remark being picked up by Opposition parties later, who immediately trained their guns on Sidhu for “trying to divide the country through his advisor”. Mali had written, “Kashmir belongs to Kashmiris. Going against the tenets of the UN resolutions, India and Pakistan have illegally usurped Kashmiri territory. If Kashmir was a part of India then what was the need to have Articles 370 and 35-A. What was the special agreement with King Hari Singh? Tell people what were the terms of the agreement.”
Party general secretary in-charge, Harish Rawat, had on Wednesday told Sidhu through the media that he should rein in Mali or sack him. A disquiet is prevailing in the Congress, as well as most of Sidhu’s supporters, are against Mali. Nobody has, however, spoken out publicly against Mali yet.