Miffed Sidhu slams picking tainted MLAs; Rawat rushes to firefight

The Congress leadership meanwhile is no mood to pander to Sidhu's whims and would ideally want him back as a team player and not to dictate terms to the party leadership

Sidhu, who had posted a video message on Twitter this morning explaining his stand on his resignation, added that he would continue fighting for truth till his last breath. Pic: Twitter @sherryontopp

A day after his dramatic resignation as Punjab Congress Chief, a sulking Navjot Singh Sidhu took to Twitter to release a video message in which he slammed the induction of tainted MLAs into Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi’s cabinet and the appointment of tainted officials as Punjab’s advocate general.

Stating that his political mission is only to make the lives of the people of Punjab better, a harried Sidhu said in the video message, that his only religion is to make people’s lives better. “I don’t have any personal rivalry with anyone; 17 years of my political career has been for a purpose, to make difference,” he said.

Further he added, “I can’t compromise with my ethics, moral authority. What I witness is a compromise with issues, and agenda in Punjab. I can’t mislead the high command nor can I let them be misled.” He had posted a message along with the video which stated that he  will continue fighting for truth “till his last breath”.

Taking a moral high ground, Sidhu lamented the fact that the tainted ministers and corrupt officials that he had always fought against were back in the government. He also attacked the appointment of controversial lawyer APS Deol as Punjab’s Advocate General. Deol had represented former Punjab DGP SS Saini in the 2015 sacrilege cases as well as an earlier corruption case.

Advertisement

“People who have got the corrupt, bail after bail, has been made advocate general,” he said in an injured tone.

As an earlier report in The Federal pointed out Sidhu and a large chunk of party MLAs had made the botched-up investigations in the sacrilege cases a major ground for their rebellion against Amarinder Singh, and so the choice of Deol – who had defended SS Saini’s role in the matter – was troublesome from the beginning.

The report also highlighted that Sidhu, who had expected to be made the Chief Minister of Punjab, was finding it hard to swallow that he was not at the epicentre of decision-making in the party. Right from the start, CM Charanjit Singh Channi made it clear to Sidhu and other Punjab Congress leaders that he would not act as a mere rubber stamp for the PCCC chief. The final straw on the camel’s back for Sidhu came after he was ostensibly not consulted over the distribution of portfolios to the new cabinet ministers.

Also read: Decoding Punjab Cong muddle: Why did Sidhu walk out in a huff?

Meanwhile, Harish Rawat, the Congress general secretary in-charge of Punjab, will reach Chandigarh today to discuss the crisis in the Punjab Congress after Sidhu’s resignation.

Harish Chaudhary, party observer for Punjab is in Chandigarh as well. The Central leadership, which is no mood to pander to Sidhu, is clear that if Sidhu wants a resolution, he should return from Patiala, where he is closeted with his supporters, to Chandigarh and speak to Channi, Rawat and Chaudhary.

Meanwhile, Channi has asked ministers Pargat Singh (Sidhu confidante) and Amarinder Singh Raja Warring to speak to Sidhu. Until now, just 6 Congress MLAs and some Punjab Congress office bearers are backing Sidhu, and they are all at his residence in Patiala.

Congress party sources told The Federal that the Congress leadership will probably appoint a new PCC chief if Sidhu continues to dig in his heels and be adamant about his resignation and the demand for sacking newly appointed tainted ministers and officials. Rawat is scheduled to hold discussions with Punjab Congress leaders on this as well, while he is in Chandigarh.

Sidhu with the Gandhi siblings: The fact that Priyanka Gandhi, who is currently in UP, did not rush back to address the crisis shows that she is also upset with Sidhu’s antics. Pic: Twitter @sherryontopp

The party leadership, which is embarrassed by his erratic behaviour, is not exactly hotfooting to meet the former PCCC chief to offer an olive branch. The fact that Priyanka Gandhi, who is currently in UP, did not rush back to address the crisis shows that she is also upset with Sidhu’s antics. Priyanka had been the one to orchestrate Sidhu’s appointment as PCCC chief in Punjab. But there is also a possibility that Priyanka will try to convince him to return to the fold.

Ideally, the senior leadership would want him back as a team player and not to dictate terms to the leaders, sources in the Congress told The Federal.

Sidhu’s critics in the party however believe that there is no point in trying to pacify Sidhu again because he will continue to throw tantrums till he is made CM. These leaders felt that even if Sidhu is pacified now he will rebel again if he is not given a free hand in ticket distribution during the discussions on deciding Congress candidates for Punjab polls.

Sidhu resigned 72 days after he was appointed as Punjab Congress chief, and eight days after Punjab got a new chief minister. He was reportedly miffed at not having his way with some senior appointments.

(With inputs from Puneet Nicholas Yadav)

CATCH US ON: