The three-member Congress panel suggested a key role in the Punjab Congress for Navjot Singh Sidhu, who has been in a long sulk over his feud with Amarinder Singh.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh should stay captain in Punjab but his challenger Navjot Singh Sidhu should be “suitably accommodated”, a Congress panel has recommended to the leadership after a series of meetings in Delhi to resolve infighting in the state due for an election next year.
The three-member panel suggested a key role in the Punjab Congress for cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Sidhu, who has been in a long sulk over his feud with Amarinder Singh.
Mr Sidhu “should be suitably accommodated and all sections of Punjab society must be justly represented in leadership and party positions”, the group has reportedly advised party bosses, leaving them once again with the difficult question of how to keep both leaders happy.
Reports suggest that the Chief Minister has been resistant to the idea of any big role for his rival either in his cabinet – as Deputy – or in the party organisation.
The committee of Rajya Sabha member Mallikarjun Kharge, the party’s Punjab in-charge Harish Rawat and former MP Jai Prakash Agarwal submitted its report to Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday after discussions with over 100 Punjab leaders, including MLAs, Amarinder Singh and Mr Sidhu.
In a sign that the Punjab Congress remains steeped in crisis, a poster war has erupted between its two most prominent faces in the state.
First the posters of the Chief Minister emerged in parts of Mr Sidhu’s Amritsar East constituency. Then Mr Sidhu’s poster emerged in the “Captain’s” home turf Patiala.
The strain between the two leaders, ongoing since 2019, has now escalated to a point where the Congress can no longer put it off. Factions have gone public against Mr Singh and accused him of an “autocratic style” of functioning.
Mr Sidhu quit the Punjab cabinet in 2019 when he was moved to what he felt was a less significant ministry. After a long period of silence, he once again targeted the Chief Minister after the Punjab government suffered a legal setback in a 2015 case involving the desecration of the Sikh religious text Guru Granth Sahib and police firing during peaceful protests.
The attacks went on to become a full-fledged revolt against Mr Singh, with a few ministers and MLAs accusing him of hounding them with vigilance inquiries and “old cases”.
Amarinder Singh’s critics have also accused him of sharing a dossier with the leadership in Delhi with names of those he alleges were involved in corruption.
Congress MLA Pargat Singh dared the Chief Minister to make the names public. “I want to tell Captain Amarinder Singh that he must tell publicly who these corrupt people are. I want to tell him that this is his confession that he’s running corrupt government,” he said.
The Chief Minister has denied any such dossier.