Navjot Singh Sidhu’s adviser Malvinder Singh Mali resigned on Friday, even as the Punjab Congress chief issued a veiled ultimatum to the party high command, declaring he would fight attempts to deny him the freedom to take decisions that were good for the state.
Controversial posts on social media by Mali have triggered a storm in the Punjab Congress, drawing criticism from Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh.
Speaking at a function organised by the Trader and Industrial Association of Amritsar on Thursday night, Sidhu said: “I have never made compromises. I have told the party high command that if I fulfill promises and deliver on the hopes of people, I will ensure the rule of the Congress in Punjab for the next 20 years.
“Par je tusi manu nirnay nahin lain deyonge taan main itt naal itt kharka du. (But if you do not allow me to take decisions, I will hit back strongly.) There is no point in being a decorated horse.”
Asked for a reaction to Sidhu’s remark, Congress general secretary in charge of the state Harish Rawat said he would comment only after he had studied the context in which the statement was made.
“But I must say that he is our honourable PPCC chief, and if a PCC chief does not have the right to take decisions, who does?” Rawat said in Delhi.
Earlier in the day, Mali posted a statement on social media, announcing he had quit as Sidhu’s adviser. He warned that if anything untoward happened to him, Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh, SAD leaders Bikram Singh Majithia and Sukhbir Singh Badal, Congress minister Vijay Inder Singla, Congress MP Manish Tewari, BJP leader Subhash Sharma, and AAP leaders Jarnail Singh and Raghav Chadha would be responsible.
These leaders had criticised his posts, which included controversial statements on Kashmir and the Taliban. Mali had, however, refused to withdraw the posts.
Attacking the Congress leadership and Rawat without naming them, Mali said Punjab had become a goldmine for the high commands and Punjab in-charges in Delhi.
Rawat described Mali’s resignation as a “very good” development. He said Mali had already clarified on Facebook that his posts were his personal opinion. On Thursday, Rawat had said that Sidhu should sack such advisers — and if he did not, he (Rawat) would do so himself.
Sources said Sidhu advised Mali to quit following the intervention of the top leadership of the party. The resignation is being viewed as a setback for Sidhu, who had earlier sought to dig in his heels, saying that his advisers enjoyed freedom of speech.