Navjot Sidhu's adviser quits amid row over his remarks

Navjot Singh Sidhu's adviser quits amidst row over his remarks

Sidhu, who was recently appointed as Punjab Congress president, and Singh are locked in an intense internal fight for control ahead of Assembly polls

Navjot Singh Sidhu. Credit: PTI Photo

Navjot Singh Sidhu's controversial adviser Malvinder Singh Mali on Friday resigned from the post on a day the Punjab Congress chief said he is "not allowed to take decisions", hinting that his calls would only to be rebutted by AICC in-charge Harish Rawat.

The fight within the Congress unit in Punjab continued to simmer as Mali's resignation came a day after a stern warning from Rawat to sack the controversial adviser and Sidhu's bete-noire Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh ensured a show of strength by meeting 55 party MLAs and eight MPs over dinner at the home of a Cabinet colleague.

Also Read — Amarinder is the Captain for 2022 Punjab polls: Rawat

Sidhu, who was recently appointed as Punjab Congress president, and Singh are locked in an intense internal fight for control ahead of Assembly polls early next year. Recently, Rawat told Singh's detractors that Congress would face the polls under his leadership.

Mali, who was appointed by Sidhu, had run into trouble following his comments about Kashmir when he suggested "Kashmir is a country of Kashmiri people". Sidhu's another adviser Pyare Lal Garg also ran into controversy with his comments on Pakistan.

This had led Rawat to say that Congress had nothing to do with Sidhu’s advisers and that the remarks on Kashmir were acceptable to Congress. "I have told Sidhu to remove his advisers. The party cannot accept such people who make irresponsible remarks that hurt the feelings of people," Rawat said earlier.

Also Read — Punjab CM warns Sidhu's advisers against assertions that do 'more damage to India's interests'

As pressure mounted, Sidhu told a gathering of his supporters in Amritsar on Friday that if he is allowed to work independently, he could ensure Congress rule in the state for 20 years. "But if you don’t allow me to take decisions, then I can’t help anything," Sidhu was quoted as saying.

In Delhi, Rawat immediately countered him saying, "I cannot question him on the basis of media speculation. I will see the context of the statement. He is the party chief, who other than him can take decisions?"

On Friday, Mali said he cannot continue in the present circumstances and alleged that if some harm comes to him, Amarinder Singh, Punjab’s cabinet minister Vijender Singh, Congress MP Manish Tewari, former deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, former cabinet minister Bikramjit Singh Majithia and BJP’s Subhash Sharma, AAP's Raghav Chadha and Jarnail Singh will be responsible.

He said he was withdrawing his consent for tendering suggestions to Sidhu as he is pushed into the "struggle with tied hands, which is not acceptable". He claimed anti-Sikh forces that cannot tolerate the emerging Punjab model, issue-based and solution-based politics, have a "nefarious design to derail" the dialogue process that has started taking shape. 

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