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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Congress firefights in Punjab: Sidhu in no mood to relent, CM ‘ready for talks’

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi said that the "head should discuss the matters within the family".

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh |
Updated: September 30, 2021 7:47:44 am
punjab congress crisis navjot singh siddhuNavjot Singh Sidhu with Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi. (Express Photo)

A DAY after Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned as PPCC chief and triggered a new crisis in the Punjab Congress, the party leadership launched an exercise to placate him but Sidhu appeared to be in no mood to relent.

The Congress sent its central observer Harish Chaudhary to Chandigarh Wednesday to speak to party leaders and sort out the crisis, but Sidhu did not come to Chandigarh. He remained in his Patiala residence the entire day. After his supporters’ attempt to advise him, he did not withdraw his resignation.

Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi said he had called up Sidhu and invited him for a dialogue. “The party president is the head of the family. The head should discuss matters within the family. I have spoken to Sidhu Sahib today and invited him for talks. I have told him that party’s ideology is supreme and a government follows that ideology. I have told him that if he has any issues, we can talk those out… I am fair and I have no ego hassles,” he said.

After remaining mum Tuesday on his resignation, Sidhu tweeted a video Wednesday to say that he will not compromise on his ethics even if it meant sacrificing posts.

He raised the Bargari sacrilege issue and said people who had given clean chits to the Badals and blanket bail to former DGP Sumedh Singh Saini had been appointed in the system. While he named the Advocate General in his video, he did not mention the DGP even though he referred to him as “someone giving clean chits to Badals in sacrilege cases”.

“Where are those issues now? I will keep raising them,” he said, targeting his party’s government again. “I will not compromise. I am not for posts. I can sacrifice anything,” he said in the video.

“When I see those issues are being compromised, I cannot take it… I had vowed to fight for justice for my Guru,” referring to the Guru Granth Sahib.

“I will not mislead the high command nor can I let the high command be misled. I will take it upon myself to fight for justice to my Guru. I will sacrifice any post.”

“We have worked on removing tainted leaders and officers from the system. But they are back. I will not allow that to happen,” he said.

Sidhu resigned Tuesday, minutes after the ministers were allocated portfolios. He is learnt to be upset that the Home department portfolio has gone to Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa. He had been opposing it, saying it should be with the Chief Minister as per tradition.

In Chandigarh, Chaudhary met some MLAs who had met Sidhu in the last 24 hours, but several MLAs visited Sidhu at his Patiala residence. Two ministers, Pargat Singh and Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, met Sidhu before the Cabinet meeting Wednesday morning. Inderbir Singh Bolaria, Fateh Jung Singh Bajwa, Balwinder Singh Laddi also met him during the day.

Sources close to Sidhu said he was unrelenting. “He is resolute. He will not withdraw his resignation unless the government removes AG APS Deol and DGP IPS Sahota. I tried to speak to him but nothing seems to have worked,” said a source close to him.

Sources said Chaudhary will try to meet him once he feels that Sidhu’s supporters have done enough groundwork to have him back as PPCC chief.

A disquiet is also prevailing in the Punjab Congress over his resignation. A number of leaders are of the opinion that the party should not bend now and let him resign. “The party has done enough for him. He has also got some responsibility,” a leader said.

A senior leader from Delhi said it was being felt that the Congress had worked very hard to appoint Sidhu as PPCC chief. “It could not have happened so smoothly. The senior party leaders worked overtime to make it happen. Otherwise there were so many dyed-in-wool Congressmen waiting in the wings for the post. Still, they chose Sidhu. By resigning on social media, Sidhu has implied that he does not value the party’s hard work and sincerity with which they carried out the entire operation of making him the PPCC chief, and then getting former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh removed.”

“It is also being felt that the new government and its appointments was a smaller battle compared to what lies ahead. If there are issues at this juncture that the leaders would be throwing off their resignations like this, then what would happen in the upcoming bigger battle of ticket distribution in two months from now. Are the resignations going to fly around like this?” the leader said.

“Channi is coming across as someone who is conducting himself with sobriety. He is forcing people to take him seriously. He is hard working. He is all over the state. He is proving to be a good choice,” the leader said.

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