Updated: July 22, 2021 2:58:05 am
DAYS AFTER he was appointed Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Navjot Singh Sidhu turned his visit to the Golden Temple into a show of strength, going there with two busloads of MLAs on Wednesday.
Sidhu’s aides claimed he was accompanied by 62 legislators as he visited the Golden Temple, Durgiana Temple and Valmiki Tirath. They did not, however, provide a list of names.
Besides outgoing Punjab PCC chief Sunil Jakhar, state ministers Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Charanjit Singh Channi and Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria were among those who accompanied Sidhu.
The four newly appointed PCC working presidents — Kuljit Singh Nagra, Sangat Singh Gilzian, Sukhwinder Singh Danny and Pawan Goel — were also present. The others included MLAs Raja Warring, Kuljit Singh Zira, Barinder Dhillon, Raj Kumar Verka, Madan Lal Jalapuri, Harjit Kamal, Harminder Gill, Inderbir Bolaria, Harminder Jassi, Joginder Pal and Pargat Singh.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s aides sought to downplay the assembly of MLAs who had breakfast at Sidhu’s residence, saying it was customary for legislators to greet the new PPCC chief. “Some of the legislators who were in Amritsar with Sidhu also called up the CM. We did not tell anyone to stay away as it was about paying obeisance at the Golden Temple,” said an aide.
Sidhu, who was named the PPCC president on Sunday after a three-month-long internal wrangling in the state Congress, is yet to call on Amarinder. The chief minister, who had opposed Sidhu’s appointment, has demanded a public apology from him for his derogatory remarks.
Amarinder’s media advisor reiterated this demand in a tweet on Tuesday evening, while clarifying that Sidhu had not sought time to meet the CM.
On Wednesday, State Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said Amarinder should forgive Sidhu the same way he had forgiven Rajya Sabha MP and former PPCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa and former leader of opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira who recently joined the party. Both had taken on the CM publicly in the past.
Sidhu, who will take charge as PPCC chief Friday, has been crisscrossing the state to garner the support of legislators since Sunday. Speaking to reporters earlier, he said he would work to return power to the people. He has promised to fulfil an 18-point agenda given by the Congress high command to the chief minister.
“This is not about groups. Our group is only Sonia Gandhi. She has appointed Capt Amarinder Singh as CM and Navjot Singh Sidhu as PPCC president. It is our duty to follow the orders of both Captain and Sidhu,” said MLA Raj Kumar Verka, who is considered close to the CM. “We are not here at the Golden Temple to show numbers. We are here to seek blessings for the development of Punjab,” said Jakhar.
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