A no holds barred attack on each other by top leaders threatens to blow up into a major crisis in the Punjab Congress with just months left for the state assembly elections.
Days after the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh openly criticised his former cabinet colleague and senior party leader Navjot Singh Sidhu for his repeated attacks on party leadership, the cricketer-turned-politician on Saturday hit back sharing a 2016 video of Capt Amarinder “promising to send Badals to jail for Kotkapura firing incident.
The former minister took to Twitter posting a video with the caption. “Big Boast, Small Roast … Big Outcry, No Outcome.”
The edited video package contains a statement of Capt Amarinder Singh from 2016 as a run-up to the Assembly elections promising action against Badals for their alleged involvement in the Kotkapura firing incident in which two people were killed.
The video then shows his latest interview in which the Chief Minister had commented: “How can they expect me to send them to jail on the very first day of my government.” Soon after this video, Sidhu tweeted more indicating that he was opening up to a direct confrontation with the Chief Minister.
What has made the slugfest even more intriguing is the allegation levelled by Capt Amarinder that Sidhu has been hobnobbing with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leadership. “I have confirmed reports that he met Arvind Kejriwal three to four times,” he told a regional YouTube channel Rozana spokesman recently.
The Chief Minister in his latest round of interviews had even challenged Sidhu to contest against him from Patiala and lose his security deposit like Gen JJ Singh.
Sources in the party said that with the direct confrontation between the two, the party is also facing dissensions with some pro-Sidhu MLAs already questioning the CM over the High court verdict trashing the investigation by the SIT into the Kotkapura firing case. Legislators like Pargat Singh have on record attacked his own government over the Kotkapura investigation fiasco.
Party sources said that even at the recently held Cabinet meeting and subsequent meeting of party MLAs with the CM, some party members have raised their concern over the government losing credibility amongst people over the issue. PCC Chief Sunil Jakhar had even offered to step down, a request that was turned down by the CM.
And now Sidhu is increasing the pace of his direct attack on the CM, sources said the party was facing a crisis. “The party high command needs to intervene before it’s too late,” said a senior party leader.
Also, what is being keenly watched is the next move by Sidhu himself. “Given the fact that he is openly targeting the Chief Minister, it will be interesting to see what his next move is,” commented a senior leader.