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Monday, November 29, 2021

Sidhu ‘back’ as PCC chief, with a rider and a charge at Channi

Navjot Singh Sidhu says he will resume charge only after the Punjab govt replaces DGP Sahota, AG Deol

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
Updated: November 6, 2021 8:53:21 am
Navjot Singh Sidhu addressing media persons. (Express photo)

Navjot Singh Sidhu Friday took back his resignation as Punjab Congress chief, a month after he had announced the same, but added that he would resume charge only after the state government replaced DGP I P S Sahota and Advocate General A P S Deol.

“This soldier of Congress president (Sonia Gandhi), Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi withdraws his resignation. But I categorically state that the day we will get a new AG and DGP, I will assume charge,” he told the media here, declaring, “When you are on the path of truth, posts do not matter.”

Sidhu had resigned on September 28, seeking the removal of Sahota and Deol. His fresh demand for their replacement comes two days after he flew with Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi to the Kedarnath shrine in what was seen as an attempt to put up a united face by the badly divided party. The government recently said it had received the resignation of Deol, but that the matter would be decided at the next Cabinet meeting. (Late on Friday, the Cabinet meeting scheduled for Saturday was pushed to Sunday.)

Sidhu also indicated that he retains the hope of being made the CM face by the Congress in the coming Assembly elections. Asked who would take that decision, Sidhu said: “Who will decide it? It will be the workers, the people of the state. People decide. If somebody else decided, then Prashant Kishor would not have come to me 70 times asking me to join the Congress.”

In what was seen as a swipe at Channi, Sidhu said the AG and DGP had to be changed as it was their responsibility to take the investigations into the Bargari sacrilege and drugs cases to their logical conclusion. “Who stops anyone from making the STF report on the drug (racket) public? It has been 50 days since the (Channi) government took over. What inclination has been shown by the government to deliver justice in the sacrilege and drug cases?”

Significantly, Sidhu did not mention his favourite target, Amarinder Singh, at all.

On why Sahota and Deol needed to be replaced, Sidhu said: “Sahota, who was the IG then, had given a clean chit to those responsible for the sacrilege (of Guru Granth Sahib). Deol got the then DGP Sumedh Singh Saini blanket bail as his lawyer. These blue-eyed boys of the previous Akali Dal government are holding two of the most important posts in our government”

Sidhu said he had repeatedly spoken to Channi about these issues. “I was assured that both the DGP and AG will be replaced. But 50 days have passed.” To a question though, he said he was not disappointed with the Channi government.

Having revolted against Amarinder for allegedly not taking action as CM on these issues, among others, Sidhu added, “The removal of Sahota and Deol is a demand of the party… How are we going to face the people when they pose these questions?”

Sidhu also demanded that the government hand over the STF report on drugs to him “if it is not to be made public”. “I have the courage to make it public. The party will make it public.”

On power prices, he said it was good that the Channi government had brought the rates down. “A message has gone across.” Sidhu had earlier accused the Amarinder government of purchasing power at high rates.

But, as Sidhu continues his tirades against his own government, he may run into rough weather in the party. Questions are being raised over how, while he attacks Channi for “not delivering in 50 days”, Sidhu himself has done little by way of bolstering the state unit as it braces for polls.

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