With AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra driving the efforts of party’s central leadership to bring a truce between warring factions of the Punjab Congress, former state Cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu met Priyanka and former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi in separate meetings on Wednesday.
Priyanka had a lengthy meeting with Sidhu in the morning after which she met Rahul to apprise him of the deliberations with him. Rahul and Priyanka then met Congress president Sonia Gandhi. The series of meetings among the three culminated in Sidhu meeting Rahul for over an hour in the evening.
Sources said the Gandhis have offered him a prominent role in the Punjab Congress, but those close to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said he is opposed to making him the president of the state unit. The CM is of the view that the post should be given to a Hindu leader.
Both Singh and Sidhu are Jat Sikhs and many leaders believe the party cannot go into elections with two leaders from the same community holding top positions.
While the Chief Minister was agreeable to making Sidhu a Deputy Chief Minister along with another person from the Dalit community, who form nearly 32 per cent of the electorate, Sidhu has reportedly rejected the offer.
Sources close to Sidhu in Punjab said that the Gandhis have got Sidhu to agree to a truce formula.
According to party sources, Sidhu was offered a prominent role, but it is not yet clear what that role would be. They added the Chief Minister will now be called to Delhi in the next few days and he would be apprised of the leadership’s deliberations with Sidhu.
“He will of course be part of the solution,” sources said. The Chief Minister would also be told to work together with Sidhu in the larger interest of the party.
Interestingly, the Gandhis had not met Amarinder when he was in Delhi last week. Congress leaders, however, maintain that the Chief Minister had not sought an appointment.
Meanwhile, party leaders speculated about the peace formula being worked out by the high command.
“One formulation can be that Sidhu is appointed head of the campaign committee and given a place in the screening committee which shortlists the candidates. That way he will have a lead role in the campaign and will be able to sit in the central election committee as well which finalises the candidates…along with that the high command can give a signal that the party would go into elections under a collective leadership,” a senior leader said.
But Sidhu is not said to be keen on the campaign committee chairman post either. He is said to be eying the post of PPCC president.
The meeting Rahul and Priyanka had with Sidhu and the deliberations that the Gandhis had on Wednesday nevertheless have sent a signal that the leadership values Sidhu much and is keen to resolve the crisis at the earliest.
Priyanka – who is the Congress in-charge of Uttar Pradesh — had last year played a role in nudging Sachin Pilot to call off his rebellion against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan. —With ENS Inputs
Misguided missile: Sukhbir Singh Badal
Navjot Singh Sidhu on Wednesday trained his guns at SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal for his “misguided missile” jab at him and said he was “guided” and primed to destroy Badal’s “corrupt businesses”.
The SAD president Badal had during a press conference in Amritsar Wednesday had said, “Navjot Singh Sidhu is a misguided missile that is not under control and can hit anywhere.” (Express News Service)