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Friday, December 03, 2021

Shot in arm for Cong as Channi, Sidhu bury hatchet to take fight to oppn camp

Even as the third party in this triangle, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, took what appeared to be a deliberately muted role, the stage was left open to the CM and Sidhu to deliver a symphony of a performance.

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina | Chandigarh |
November 13, 2021 9:10:11 am
Charanjit Singh Channi and Navjot Singh Sidhu.

Putting away the bitterness and rancour, which cropped up between them in the days and weeks after Capt Amarinder Singh was deposed, Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu put up a joint effort to launch an offensive against the opposition in the special Vidhan Sabha session that concluded Thursday.

Praising each other at regular intervals and taking up cudgels on behalf of each other while taking on the opposition, Channi and Sidhu put up a show that could make anyone forget that the two had locked horns for several weeks over the issue of appointment of Advocate General and the Director General of Police.

Even as the third party in this triangle, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, took what appeared to be a deliberately muted role, the stage was left open to the CM and Sidhu to deliver a symphony of a performance.

Quite unlike his mild-mannered character, Channi launched a vicious attack on Bikramjit Singh Majithia in particular and the Shiromani Akali Dal in general which caught the latter unaware. While the Akalis were busy taking on Sidhu, Channi made a flanking move by even overstepping the parliamentary limits momentarily, blindsiding the opposition party.

Political observers feel that the CM should not have used such strong words against Majithia especially since the new dispensation has had all the time at its disposal to take legal action against him in accordance with law. Also, while Channi’s attack will pay handsome political dividends and a PR score with the video clip of him attacking Akali leader going viral, the fact remains that it is quite rare for the remarks of the Leader of the House to be expunged from the proceedings.

“There is an element of over exuberance in Sidhu and in an attempt to match him or maybe even outdo him, Channi may have been swept away in the heat of the moment. He should certainly have avoided personal attacks but then this is a do or die situation for the Congress. And had the shoe been on the other foot, let me assure you the Akalis would not only have gone a step further but would have been ruthless about it,’ said a senior Congress leader who did not want to be named.

The crossing over of the AAP MLA to the treasury benches after embracing the CM was also perfectly scripted in advance and it created the right impact. While the move does raise serious questions about the propriety of the act and whether the CM should have encouraged it and Speaker Rana KP Singh should have allowed it to happen right under his nose, yet this move put AAP on the backfoot.

In a pincer move, Sidhu too took on AAP by questioning the Leader of Opposition why the Delhi government under Arvind Kejriwal had not denotified one of the three farm laws that they had implemented in Delhi.

Within 24 hours of the Raikot MLA Jagtar Singh Jagga Hissowal openly declaring Channi as an “aam aadmi CM” and plonking down on Congress benches, AAP was forced to name all its other MLAs as candidates from their constituencies. The party had been dithering on announcing this for some time but the strong optics of the cross-over forced their hand.

While Sidhu said complimentary things about Channi and the latter reciprocated by mentioning several times the term “pardhan saab” and deferring to the status of a state president, however, the ultimate benefit goes to CM. His image of a soft spoken CM from humble background has been reinforced with the Vidhan Sabha image of a fiery leader who can take the fight to the opposite camp if required.

Another party watcher said that Sidhu too has not fared badly in the entire episode. “He may have climbed down from his resignation as state Congress chief but he has also managed to get the CM to do his bidding by getting the AG removed and promising a new DGP. This embellishes his image as a go-getter and gives him an advantage. The two leaders may have buried the hatchet for now and put up a united front in the Vidhan Sabha, but it is too early to say that a permanent peace has been arrived at,’’ say political observers.

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