Amid the infighting in the Congress’ Punjab unit ahead of the state Assembly elections, party leader Harish Rawat said on Monday that Amarinder Singh will remain the chief minister, reported The Indian Express.
Rawat, who is the in charge of Congress’ Punjab affairs, told The Indian Express that party members had some problems but no one wanted a change in the chief minister’s post.
The Punjab unit of the party was thrown into a crisis after a rift emerged between Singh and his former Cabinet colleague Navjot Sidhu, who has reportedly been demanding a more prominent role in the Congress. The cricketer-turned-politician had resigned from the Punjab Cabinet after he was divested of the local bodies portfolio in 2019. Singh and Sidhu have publicly criticised each other for months. Other party leaders have also revolted against the chief minister.
On Monday, Rawat told The Indian Express that the party would also replace Pradesh Congress chief Sunil Jakhar and rejig the Cabinet. He said that a Valmiki leader would be inducted, adding that it would not be a problem as party members wanted the representation of the community in the government.
“The changes are on the cards within 2-3 days,” Rawat said. “I was confident that everything will be resolved before July 8. That is why I had announced that everything would be sorted out by the end of the first week of July.”
Rawat said that things got delayed because other states were also demanding the attention of the party’s high command. “But as the general secretary in-charge, I was getting worried that it [the matter in Punjab] was getting delayed,” he told the newspaper. “The issues should get resolved soon.”
Speaking about things getting sorted out in the party’s state unit, the Congress leader pointed to Sidhu’s tweets criticising the Shiromani Akali Dal instead of the chief minister. “Don’t you see how Navjot Singh Sidhu has trained his guns in the right direction?” Rawat said. “The guns are trained at the right persons.”
Rawat said that everybody in the Punjab Congress would be happy after his announcements.
He also said that Singh’s statement that he would abide by what party chief Sonia Gandhi was a “big deal”. Singh had met Gandhi on July 6 amid the infighting. After the meeting, he had said that Gandhi’s decision will be acceptable. The chief minister, however, did not speak about Sidhu.
“It was so magnanimous of Captain Sahib [Amarinder Singh] that he did not say anything about Sidhu, and said that he had left everything to the Congress president,” Rawat told The Indian Express. “It is a huge thing if someone of the stature of Captain Sahib says such words. I was hoping it would have a sobering effect on the Punjab Congress as well.”
In June, Sidhu had met Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in Delhi amid his feud with the Punjab chief minister. The Congress had formed a three-member committee to resolve the crisis in Punjab.
Sidhu has been criticising the chief minister about the 2015 sacrilege case – when Sikh religious text Guru Granth Sahib was desecrated at Bargari in Faridkot – and the alleged delay by Singh’s government to bring justice. He has also spoken against the liquor, sand and transport mafias operating in Punjab.
The cricketer-turned-politician had also dismissed allegations that he was damaging the image of the Congress in one of the few states where it is in power. “Is it damaging if you address issues like sacrilege?” he asked. “Every MLA is raising this issue. All 78 MLAs are with me.”
Sidhu had also hit out at his own party for the power crisis in the state. The Punjab government has been facing criticism over power shortage amid an intense heatwave.