Sidhu meets Sonia Gandhi amid Punjab Congress chief suspense
Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu on Friday met party chief Sonia Gandhi as reports say the former is likely to be named the new Punjab party chief. The Congress party has reportedly decided to promote Sidhu to end the infighting between his followers and those supporting Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. However, some state leaders argue that Sidhu's appointment could prove counter-productive.
Rahul Gandhi, Harish Rawat present during meeting with Sidhu
Sidhu met Gandhi at her residence in Delhi on Friday. Gandhi's son, former party chief Rahul Gandhi, and the Punjab Congress in-charge Harish Rawat were also present during the meeting, The Indian Express reported. Sources told the publication that the announcement regarding the new Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief could be made later in the day.
Announcements of 2 working presidents also expected
Further, the report said the announcements of two working presidents, a campaign committee chief, coordination committee chief, along with a manifesto committee chief will likely be made later in the day, as well. A Hindu and a Dalit candidate will reportedly be named working presidents.
Sidhu, Singh locked in power tussle for long
The rivalry between Amarinder Singh and Sidhu has been festering since the 2017 Punjab elections. Sidhu—a key figure—has been demanding a key role, asking for the post of Punjab Congress chief or Deputy Chief Minister. He has also been hinting at the possibility of leaving the party to join the rival Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which would be a huge loss to the Congress.
Loyalists in both camps threaten mass resignation
With reports of Sidhu's appointment circulating Thursday, both Sidhu and Singh held meetings with their respective loyalists in Punjab. Sidhu has reportedly gained the support of five Cabinet ministers and 10-15 MLAs, who are expected to threaten mass resignations if he is not promoted. Singh also has several loyal ministers and MLAs in his camp, who may quit unanimously if Sidhu gains more power.
Congress has seen similar feuds in other states
In Rajasthan, a similar feud between Congress's Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot had made headlines and Pilot had ended up losing his positions as state party president and Deputy CM. In 2018, Congress's Kamal Nath was named CM in Madhya Pradesh. Nath prevented party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia from becoming the state party chief. Scindia resigned, leading to the fall of the Congress-led MP government.