Navjot Singh Sidhu on Tuesday sent waves through the Punjab Congress with his resignation as chief of the party, after continued ripples of infighting this year. The leader, known for his brazen ways has spurred a front of his own camp of supporters amid the crisis. After his exit, Punjab Cabinet Minister Razia Sultana resigned in solidarity with him, along with party general secretary Yoginder Dhingra. Sidhu’s aides are now reaching his residence, firm on their demands behind the leader’s step. However, it remains to be seen whether Sidhu will be successfully placated or not, unlike his nemesis Capt Amarinder Singh, even as Congress attempts to coerce the leader to take back his decision.
Party sources told News18 that Sidhu’s resignation has not been accepted yet, and that the Congress high-command is in touch with him.
Other leaders are meeting up with Sidhu even as Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi is huddled up with 15 ministers in an emergency meeting amid the political crisis. Channi, in a press conference after the developments, had said he would talk to the leader and attempt to resolve his differences.
Congress Working President Sukhwinder Danny reached Sidhu’s Patiala residence earlier, along with Congress MLA Inderbir Singh Bolaria. Cabinet Minister Pargat Singh also left for Sidhu’s residence, however, sources told News18 that the leader did not resign from his post yet, and is going to talk to the leader. Punjab Congress Lok Sabha MP Amar Singh also reached Sidhu’s residence. Punjab Congress MLAs Amrinder Singh Raja Warring and Nirmal Shutrana have also arrived at the premises.
Trouble started brewing on Sunday as a few hours before the new ministers were to take oath, some MLAs wrote to Sidhu, saying the “tainted” Rana Gurjeet Singh should not be made minister since he faced accusations of corruption in sand mining. Gurjeet Singh, in fact, was removed from the cabinet by then chief minister Amarinder Singh over the corruption allegations.
Sukhpal Khaira, talking to media after Sidhu’s resignation said his suggestion was ignored that is why he felt he is a “speechless president". He said Sidhu had taken a stand against corruption, and demanded the resignation of the minister who had caused all the controversy.
Barely days after Charanjit Singh Channi took over as the Punjab CM and on a day portfolios were given to members of the new state Cabinet, 57-year-old Sidhu’s resignation came as a jolt to the party, with the Assembly elections just less than five months away. At the time he switched over to the Congress from the BJP before the 2017 Punjab Assembly polls, Sidhu had said he is a “born Congressman", who came back to his roots.
Sidhu had said he would be ready to work under anybody appointed by the high command and contest from where the party wants him to. It is premature to talk about the issue, Sidhu had then said when asked whether he would like to be the chief ministerial candidate of the party.
Four-and-a-half years later, the rift between Sidhu and party leader Amarinder Singh escalated to such a level, resulting in 79-year-old Congress veteran stepping down as chief minister, who said he felt “humiliated" over the way the party handled the protracted crisis.
Amarinder Singh, who had called Sidhu “dangerous" and “anti-national", while reacting over his resignation, again took a dig at him and said, “I told you so, he is not a stable man, not fit for the border state of Punjab."