Congress in knots in Punjab: After removing CM Amarinder, Sidhu resigns as PCC chief

The ripple effect of Sidhu’s resignation came immediately with two newly-sworn in Cabinet ministers Pargat Singh and Razia Sultana resigning from the Channi cabinet
nand Mishra
Last Updated : 28 September 2021, 15:37 IST
Last Updated : 28 September 2021, 15:37 IST
Last Updated : 28 September 2021, 15:37 IST
Last Updated : 28 September 2021, 15:37 IST

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In a dramatic turn of events, Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu on Tuesday resigned from his post days after ensuring the exit of Captain Amarinder Singh from the Chief Minister’s post, pushing the Congress in a mess in poll-bound Punjab six months before the Assembly polls.

“The collapse of a man's character stems from the compromise corner, I can never compromise on Punjab's future and the agenda for the welfare of Punjab," Sidhu wrote in the letter announcing his resignation 71 days after he was appointed the PPCC chief.

He at the same time said that he “will continue to serve the Congress.

Sidhu was made PCC chief in July this year, ignoring the opposition of Amarinder Singh with the strong backing of Priyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and the abrupt resignation will raise further questions on the handling of the situation by Gandhi siblings.

Former Chief Minister Singh, who had earlier called Gandhi siblings “inexperienced” for having made Sidhu the PCC chief and vowed to fight tooth and nail any attempt to install the latter as Chief Minister on Tuesday reminded "I told you so...he is not a stable man and not fit for the border state of Punjab."

The ripple effect of Sidhu’s resignation came immediately with two newly-sworn in Cabinet ministers Pargat Singh and Razia Sultana resigning from the Channi cabinet. In a letter to Channi, Sultana made it clear that her resignation was to express “solidarity” with Sidhu.

If the implosion continues, Congress would be in a real crisis situation and could also be staring at a split, which will further compound the ruling party’s problems in the state.

As a matter of fact, the Punjab potboiler is hot enough to burn the Congress fingers with its two most well-known faces of the party -- Amarinder Singh, who was forced to resign as CM 10 days ago, and Navjot Sidhu who quit on Tuesday -- are sulking and simmering with anger while staying within the organization and the party is forced to totally bank on the new Dalit Chief Minister Channi.

The high octane political drama surrounding Sidhu’s resignation happened on a day Singh was in Delhi amid speculation of his meetings with the top BJP leadership. Singh’s media advisor, however, rejected such speculation saying too much being read into Captain Amarinder’s visit to Delhi. “He’s on a personal visit, during which he’ll meet some friends and also vacate Kapurthala house for the new CM. No need for any unnecessary speculation,” he said.

While it is being speculated that Sidhu took the extreme decision with some recent appointments in the state government as well as allocation of portfolios to some newly-sworn in ministers, a section said Sidhu saw the end of road to his political career the day Congress appointed a Dalit Channi as Chief Minister and was pained to explain that the latter was not a stop-gap arrangement for Sidhu to take over after the polls.

Channi’s assertive style of functioning in the last few days also made it clear that he was not treating himself as a temporary CM and was keen to dispel the notion that he was a “rubber stamp” or will function in Sidhu’s shadow.

The allocation of home affairs to deputy chief minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa was stated to be a point of discord. Sidhu had earlier stalled Randhawa’s appointment as CM. Both Randhawan and Sidhu belong to the Jat Sikh community. Sidhu was also unhappy with the induction of Rana Gurjit Singh into the Channi cabinet despite his objections. Gurjit Singh had resigned in 2017 from Amarinder Singh cabinet after corruption charges. On Tuesday when Channi allocated portfolios to the new ministers, he was given technical education and industrial training departments, which were held by Channi during Amarinder Singh's tenure.

AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj, however, said “This shows that Navjot Singh Sidhu is against Dalits. One poor son was made the chief minister... Sidhu could not bear this. It is very sad.”

AAP leader Raghav Chadda tweeted, “Complete and absolute state of anarchy in Punjab Congress. How can the people of Punjab expect these selfish leaders to give a stable, progressive and inclusive administration? “

Akali leader Sukbhir Badal said Sidhu is a “misguided missile, who does not know whom it will hit. First he got Captain removed first. Now he will finish the Congress. Every child in Punjab knows Sidhu. Sidhu is all about himself.”

As Punjab CM called an emergency meeting of Cabinet after Sidhu’s resignation after CM Channi said he had no knowledge about it, Akali Dal questioned,”why this emergency cabinet meeting after 's resignation? How does Sidhu's resignation become an official issue? It's a party affair. Gross MISUSE of the official platform.”

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Published 28 September 2021, 15:37 IST

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