Meanwhile, Sidhu took the moral high ground, at least on camera. Sidhu tweeted a video message in Punjabi on Wednesday morning, saying he will fight for truth ‘until his last breath’.
The political upheaval in Punjab has thrown up so many surprises in the past two months that the confusion and back and forth is now borderline comical.
Navjot Singh Sidhu wanted more from the Congress, and for once the top brass gave him his ask. But Sidhu moved on quickly from wanting the reins of the party to seeking control over government — even though the chief minister was appointed only after his consent. He gave up what he had in a late night outburst on Twitter on Monday assuming he still held the higher bargaining chip. But word on the street is that the party leadership has finally had enough and is looking to cut him down to size by promptly appointing a replacement.
Meanwhile, Sidhu took the moral high ground, at least on camera. Sidhu tweeted a video message in Punjabi on Wednesday morning, saying he will fight for truth “until his last breath”.
Sidhu’s message to Congress top brass
On camera, Sidhu said a lot of things.
हक़-सच की लड़ाई आखिरी दम तक लड़ता रहूंगा … pic.twitter.com/LWnBF8JQxu
— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) September 29, 2021
He criticised the appointment of Iqbal Preet Singh Sahot as Punjab DGP saying those who gave a clean chit to Badals six years back, have been made in charge of delivering justice. Sahota was the head of a special investigation team formed in 2015 by the then Akali government to probe the sacrilege incidents.
Sidhu also apparently questioned the appointment of APS Deol as the state’s new advocate general saying that “those who secured blanket bails, they are advocate general.”
But behind the scenes, Sidhu is upset at the appointment of several ministers including the home ministry being assigned to Deputy Chief Minister SS Randhawa, his rival, and the induction of Aruna Chaudhary who is the current chief minister’s relative. Sidhu had instead wanted some of his own men to be accommodated.
Sidhu faces flak from within own party
Sidhu’s flip-flops and attempts to arm-twist party leadership into toeing his line has unsurprisingly miffed many of his Congress colleagues.
Congress leader Ravneet Bittu has questioned Sidhu’s timing to disrupt Congress’s high after cabinet formation. Without naming Sidhu, Bittu alleges he has a hidden agenda that could include an RSS angle.
Another leader, Jasveer Singh Kamboj said that people like Sidhu can never be happy with what they have got. He told ANI, “One man (Navjot Singh Sidhu) leaving/joining the party doesn’t affect our prospects to win the election, Congress will form the govt again…What he did is no less than betrayal…. He was chosen over Sunil Jakhar, who worked all his life for Congress. If he (Sidhu) is still not happy, then he can never be happy…Situation in Punjab is a bit disturbing. Gandhi family posed a lot of faith in him and then he did this.”
Former Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha summarised the goings-on in an acerbic tweet demanding that heads should roll starting from Delhi.
A short story on Punjab:
Congress under Captain Amarinder Singh looks solid, in pole position.
Sidhu revolts. Delhi encourages him.
Sidhu becomes State chief.
Delhi humiliates Captain
Channi becomes CM
Someone in Delhi needs to be sacked.
— Sanjay Jha (@JhaSanjay) September 29, 2021
Congress MP from Punjab Manish Tewari, who had been unhappy with Sidhu’s elevation from the start, pointed out that creating instability in Punjab at such a time was undesirable. He also subtly blamed the Delhi leadership saying “people who were charged with the remit of looking at the state did not have a clue about the big picture.”
“Whatever Capt Singh had predicted is coming true. The concern of a large number of us who see things beyond the cut and thrust of partisan politics is implications that this will have on larger stability of Punjab, given the social turmoil because of farmers’ agitation. What Punjab required at this point in time was a safe pair of hands that could keep the ship on an even keel. Unfortunately, people who were charged with the remit of looking at the state did not have a clue about the big picture.”
Speaking to Republic, Congress leader Prit Singh Pal slammed Navjot Sidhu and said, “We changed the Chief Minister of Punjab as asked by him. We appointed him President of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee as asked by him. We appointed a different cabinet as asked by him. We did everything he asked. Now, only God can make someone happy after this. If he had any problem in terms of the cabinet expansion he should have talked to Sonia Gandhi.”
Senior Punjab Congress leader Sunil Jakhar said that Sidhu’s resignation from the post has breached the party’s trust. Jakhar was removed as the Punjab Congress chief in July to make way for Sidhu.
“What stands compromised in this entire ‘episode’ is the faith reposed in the [outgoing ?] PCC President by the Congress Leadership,” he said in a tweet. “No amount of grandstanding can justify this breach of trust placing his benefactors in a peculiar predicament.”
Meanwhile, Congress leader Alka Lamba predicted that its the end of the rope for Sidhu. Stating that Sidhu’s political career is perhaps over, Lamba advised him to turn back to his career in TV when Sidhu was associated with various comedy shows for decades.
Now let him do a full time comedy.
His time is over in Politics. Enough.
— Alka Lamba (@LambaAlka) September 28, 2021
Party leader Amarinder Singh, who had had stepped down as chief minister of the state on 18 September following differences with Sidhu also immediately castigated Sidhu for resigning. “I told you so…he is not a stable man and not fit for the border state of Punjab,” he said in a tweet.
With inputs from PTI