The storm in Punjab Congress over Punjab Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu’s “captain” remark was contained after the intervention of Congress high command that stopped the Cabinet ministers from taking up a resolution condemning Sidhu.
A Cabinet minister, considered close to Amarinder, had made preparations to bring a condemnation resolution in the Cabinet meeting against Sidhu asking the Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to drop him from the Cabinet.
Several other ministers were to second it. But the party high command, said an AICC leader, intervened well before time, assigned another AICC leader to speak to the ministers as well as Sidhu, and stopped them from taking any action.
Punjab infighting bad for Rajasthan, infers Congress
The Congress high command intervened posthaste to save its star campaigner in Rajasthan the blushes as it felt that the infighting in its Punjab unit was sending a negative message to voters in the poll-bound state. It sensed that a resolution against Navjot Singh Sidhu by his Cabinet colleagues would open the party to attacks from the opposition for failing to discipline its rank and file. As part of his campaign for the party in Rajasthan, Sidhu addresses at least four to five poll rallies in the state daily.
On the other hand, Sidhu was quoted by ANI from Jhalawar in Rajasthan, saying, “You do not wash dirty linen in public. He (Amarinder Singh) is a father-figure, I love him, I respect him, I will sort it out myself.”
Consequently, the Cabinet meeting did not discuss Sidhu. The meeting that was expected to be stormy passed off peacefully with Sidhu’s names appearing only when the agenda related to his department was deferred as he was not there in the meeting. Sidhu was campaigning in Rajasthan on Monday. “I swear on the Golden Temple. Sidhu’s name was not taken in the Cabinet except when his agenda was read and deferred,” a Cabinet minister told The Indian Express. He added it was decided before the Cabinet meeting that Sidhu would not be discussed.
After Sidhu’s remark that was seen as “challenging authority” of the Chief Minister, a number of Cabinet ministers had gone on record to condemn Sidhu and demand his resignation.
Sources said the party high command was of the view that the issue that could have been sorted at party platform was made to look ugly that the party was becoming a laughing stock besides affecting party’s campaign in Rajasthan.
An AICC leader said, “It was being felt that the internal feud of the party had not only given a handle to rivals, with Union Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj mocking the ‘three captains’, and the Akalis, who were on the defensive on Bargari issue all this while, taking potshots at the Congress. We will now sort the issue out. If Amarinder and his aides have a grievance against Sidhu, the latter too has a grievance against the former. He has been
condemned several times for visiting Pakistan.
Our own government took a stand against him in the Supreme Court in the 1988 road rage case leading
Punjab Congress president Sunil Kumar Jakhar, who was being curiously watched for his stoic silence on the issue, is learnt to have been instrumental in brokering peace.
Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Rural and Urban Development Minister, who is considered close to the Chief Minister told The Indian Express, “Sidhu sahib has said in Rajasthan that Captain sahib is like a father figure to him, he loves him and respects him. Now it is between the father and the son. It is a happy ending of the issue.”