Sidhu to be next Punjab Congress chief? Decision sparks row
Punjab Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu is likely to be appointed the party's state unit chief, reports said on Thursday. The development comes amid a power tussle between Sidhu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh of the Congress party ahead of next year's Punjab elections. However, state party leaders surmise that Sidhu's new position will prove counter-productive to end the infighting.
Singh-Sidhu row could hurt Congress in upcoming polls
As the Punjab elections draw closer, the Congress leadership seemed restless to resolve the crisis that has endangered its campaign for next year's Assembly elections. Reportedly, Sidhu was not keen to accept anything less than the post of Punjab Congress President or Deputy Chief Minister. The party is notably contemplating having two working chiefs from the Hindu and Dalit communities, India Today reported.
'Sidhu's appointment may create two power centers in Punjab'
As Congress's top leadership is planning to give Sidhu a "bigger role," many in the Punjab Congress feel Sidhu's elevation will eventually lead to the creation of two power centers in the state. "Going into the elections, the next tussle then would be over ticket distribution with both camps (Singh and Sidhu) seeking more tickets for their loyalists," a state minister told CNN-News18.
Move to worsen factionalism: State minister
Another minister said that if ticket distribution is delayed during elections due to factionalism, it will harm the party's prospects in elections. "After the kind of words that have been said by Sidhu publicly against the CM, can you imagine both of them sharing an election campaign stage? The tension has in fact been simmering for long," the minister said.
Singh, Sidhu at loggerheads for months
Singh and Sidhu have been at loggerheads for months as Sidhu's camp is pressing for a change of guard in the party's state unit. In recent weeks, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Rahul Gandhi have held meetings with both the leaders separately in an attempt to find a resolution. Wednesday's meeting between Prashant Kishor and the Gandhis was likely another resolution attempt.
Good news expected: Punjab in-charge said yesterday
While no formal announcement has been made so far, rumors and speculation about Sidhu's possible elevation gained momentum when Harish Rawat, Congress's Punjab in-charge, said that "good news" is expected. Maintaining that the Congress will face elections with Singh as CM, Rawat had said, "Sidhu is the future of the state. He should keep this in mind while taking any decision."
Congress fears Sidhu may quit party
Owing to Sidhu's popularity in the state, Congress's fear is if Sidhu leaves the party for not heeding to his demands, the party may find itself in a tough spot ahead of polls. Sidhu's pressure-building techniques are also evident in his recent tweets. In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Sidhu had praised the rival AAP for recognizing his vision and work for Punjab.
Sidhu's proximity to AAP bothers Congress
Before he joined the Congress in 2017, Sidhu was in talks with the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP. Separately, the AAP has also announced that it will have a Jat Sikh as its CM face in the upcoming Punjab Assembly elections.