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Punjab: Navjot Singh Sidhu wants to be Congress’s CM face, party tries to make him see reason

The party has initiated an exercise to make Navjot Singh Sidhu see reason in their decision to contest the 2022 elections under collective leadership.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh |
Updated: December 31, 2021 10:39:26 pm
Former Punjab Congress Chief Navjot Singh Sidhu.

The Congress, after an ultimatum from its Punjab unit chief Navjot Singh Sidhu to name him as the chief ministerial candidate ahead of the upcoming state polls, finds itself in a tight spot.

The party has initiated an exercise to make Sidhu see reason in their decision to contest the 2022 elections under collective leadership. On late Thursday evening, Cabinet Minister, Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, and Fatehgarh Sahib MP, Dr Amar Singh, who is considered close to Sidhu, were sent to meet the Punjab Congress chief at his residence.

“They both held meetings with Sidhu and told him to hold his horses. But they didn’t make much progress. Sidhu is adamant. He wants to be declared the CM candidate. He has made it clear that he will not campaign if the party does not make it clear who the CM would be if it is voted to power,” a source privy to the discussions said.

The Congress has already announced that the next election would be contested under collective leadership and there would be no individual face around whom the campaign will be designed.

Sidhu, however, has been continuing unabated, telling the media that the party should announce its CM candidate before the elections. He has been saying this at every party program being addressed by him, which has not gone down very well with many party leaders who believe that he should be dealt with appropriately by the high command.

While Sidhu continues undeterred, the Congress for now at least is planning to make him see reason. “We just want AICC leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi to sit with him and make him understand that he cannot be declared the CM candidate as the Congress will lose all SC votes that it hopes to get with Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi as its face in Punjab for now,” a leader said.

The source acknowledged that the party at present felt tied down from all quarters, “It is Sidhu’s own doing. Had he allowed a Jat Sikh or a Hindu leader to be chosen as the Chief Minister after the ouster of Captain Amarinder Singh, we would have been in a position to declare him the CM candidate. It will be a huge call if the party would want to take [naming Sidhu as the CM candidate]. But as of today, it is impossible. It is certain that the Congress will not have any CM candidate,” he said.

Another leader said that Sidhu should understand that he can go around projecting himself as the CM candidate, “Nobody has stopped him. Channi is declaring himself to be the next CM on his own. What stops Sidhu from doing the same then? The way he is showcasing his Punjab model, he can always say that when he is the CM, he will deliver on all these promises.”

“We are in a grave situation. We are doing well but Sidhu’s utterances are leaving other leaders frustrated,” another leader said. Already, three leaders have hit out at Sidhu — including Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who called Sidhu an “egoist who was full of I, me, myself.” Cabinet Minister Rana Gurjit Singh and Bharat Bhushan Ashu have also hit out at Sidhu. “If the practice continues, there would be too much infighting,” the leader said while claiming that he echoed the sentiments of others.

Another senior leader, however, said, “Let the time come. We will catch this bull also by its horns. The election will be fought under collective leadership. Sidhu just needs to understand that. We changed the Advocate General and DGP at his insistence. He should also learn to draw a line somewhere. The party has given him so much already.”

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