If Sidhu doesn't remove advisors, Congress will: Harish Rawat
Trouble seems to be mounting for Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu as the party's Punjab in-charge Harish Rawat called for the removal of his advisors. Sidhu's advisors had recently issued controversial remarks on Kashmir and Pakistan. Amid a power tussle between Sidhu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Rawat on Wednesday announced that Congress will fight the 2022 Assembly elections under Singh's leadership.
Congress considers Kashmir India's integral part: Rawat
In an interview with NDTV, Rawat clarified that Sidhu's advisors were not assigned by Congress. Thus, their comments don't reflect the party's stand on the issues. Rawat said Congress has always considered Jammu and Kashmir "an integral part of India." "We have asked Sidhu to dismiss them. If Sidhu does not do that, I will. We do not want people who embarrass the party."
What were the controversial remarks by Sidhu's advisors?
Sidhu's advisor Malvinder Singh Mali had said that J&K is a "separate country" and India and Pakistan are illegally occupying the region. Mali also shared a controversial sketch of Indira Gandhi where she is standing near a heap of skulls holding a gun. Another advisor, Pyare Lal Garg, had taken a swipe at Singh for criticizing Pakistan, saying it is not in Punjab's interest.
Gandhis upset with Sidhu over advisors' remarks
Notably, the controversial statements by Sidhu's advisors have also irked the Gandhis. The Gandhis fear the recent developments will help the rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to further polarization in Uttar Pradesh. The developments will also attach the "anti-national tag" to the Gandhis, they reportedly fear. Separately, a few Punjab ministers, loyal to CM Singh, have also demanded strict action against Sidhu's advisors.
CM faces revolt; ministers sought Singh's removal
Meanwhile, at least five ministers and dozens of MLAs—considered close to Sidhu—had started an open rebellion against CM Singh, seeking his replacement ahead of the 2022 Punjab elections. Four rebel ministers also went to Dehradun to meet Rawat to convey their grievances against the CM. However, Rawat turned them down, making it clear that the demand to replace Singh will not be accepted.
Power tussle intensifies between Sidhu and Singh
Despite the Congress' efforts to quell tensions, the power tussle between CM Singh and Sidhu has only intensified. Both Sidhu and Singh are trying to hold a grip over the party in the state with the Assembly elections around the corner. The timing of the revolt against Singh is curious as it came a day after Sidhu faced flak for his advisor's statements.