Amid reports of former Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu warming up to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Congress high command is trying to bridge the gulf between him and Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.
Sidhu had resigned from Amarinder’s Cabinet in July last year after he was divested of his portfolio citing non-performance. He has since then been away from mainstream politics. He had shifted base to Amritsar soon after his resignation from the state’s capital Chandigarh, after vacating his official bungalow.
Sources in the Congress said that while PPCC president Sunil Kumar Jakhar has even offered to step down as state party president for Sidhu to be handed over the reins of the unit, the party is working to find a way to get him back in action.
It is learnt that the topic of Sidhu was broached during general secretary in-charge Asha Kumari’s meeting with the CM last week. The latter, a source said, was “not averse” to getting Sidhu back in the Cabinet. “He may not give him the same department but he is quite open to getting Sidhu back,” a source close to CM said.
Sources said many in the party feel that if Sidhu goes to AAP, it could pose a challenge to Congress in the 2022 assembly election. “The party feels that AAP is a spent force in Punjab now. Also, Arvind Kejriwal has not been focusing on Punjab. But if Sidhu goes there then they get a face,” a party leader said.
Former finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa, who broke away from SAD, has also said that he was trying to get in touch with Sidhu to float a regional party. Sidhu is considered a popular leader in Punjab.
The Congress leader added that even if Sidhu floats his own party, it would harm the Congress. “He may or may not get a majority to form the government but he will harm the Congress,” the leader added.
Sidhu on the other hand has been staying away from party activities. He has been posting on his YouTube channel Jittega Punjab that he resigned because the government had not taken action against the accused in Bargari sacrilege. He also said that he had forgone important positions for the sake of Punjab.
Sources said no one in the party had contacted Sidhu yet. Congress is reorganising its unit in the state and Kumari was set to have a meeting in Chandigarh on June 18 about the organisational structure. “Maybe then they will come up with a way to placate Sidhu,” said a source.
Meanwhile, Indian Overseas Congress is starting an initiative called #SpeakUpIndia NRI series under which prominent speakers of Congress would be assessing NRIs through video link. The first speaker in the series will be Sidhu. The address will be held on June 28. Sidhu will be on a Congress platform after a long time.
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