Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, who met Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi for talks on Thursday, will remain the Punjab Congress Committee chief, it was announced after the high-stakes meeting signalling an end to the ongoing turmoil in the state. Sources told News18 that most of Sidhu’s demands have been accepted, and the decision is likely to be formally announced at a Cabinet meeting that has been called on October 4. Sidhu had raised questions over the recent appointments of the director-general of police, the advocate general and some “tainted” leaders in the Channi cabinet.
Channi first left the meeting venue around 6 pm while Sidhu came out about half an hour later. No party leader spoke to the media after the meeting concluded. Earlier in the day, Sidhu reached Chandigarh from Patiala to meet Channi.
MLA Gurdeep, who was part of the Channi-Sidhu meet which took place at Chandigarh’s Punjab Bhawan, said that Sidhu has agreed to withdraw his resignation. Two flower bouquets were seen being taken inside Punjab Bhawan. Sidhu agreed to talk with Channi a day after the CM reached out to him and offered to resolve issues through talks. Apart from the two leaders, Sidhu’s close aide Pargat Singh and Harish Choudhary were also present at the meeting.
“All of Sidhu’s issues have been heard and will be put before the Cabinet on October 4. Only then, a final decision will be taken,” said a senior leader.
According to top sources in the party who are privy to the outcome of the meeting, a coordination committee will be set up comprising both Channi and Sidhu to address the latter’s issues. However, all major decisions will be taken only after the central leadership’s nod, a Congress leader told CNN-News18. Interestingly, alternative names have been suggested for the ‘objectionable appointments’ made so far, he added. The committee will meet almost every week.
Punjab Congress in-charge Harish Rawat told News18 said that it will take five to seven days to get everything right in Punjab. Rawat said will have to go to Punjab on Friday.
Plunging the Congress into fresh crisis months ahead of the assembly elections in the state, Sidhu put in his papers on Tuesday shortly after the allocation of portfolios to the members of the new state Cabinet.
Right before his meeting with Channi, Sidhu attacked the state’s new DGP, saying that he had wrongly indicted two Sikh youths in a desecration case and gave a clean chit to the Badals.
The desecration of a religious text allegedly took place in Punjab’s Faridkot district in 2015, whose investigation was handed over by the then Parkash Singh Badal-led government to an SIT led by the current DGP Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota. Sahota was given the additional charge of the state’s DGP by the Charanjit Singh Channi-led government, after which Sidhu quit as the state Congress chief and objected to his appointment.
DGP IPS Sahota was head of SIT investigating Beadbi case under Badal Govt, he wrongfully indicted two Sikh youth for sacrilege & gave clean chit to Badals. In 2018, I along with INC Ministers, then PCC Pres & present Home Minister assured them of our support in fight for Justice. https://t.co/yX3TT17fCv pic.twitter.com/aQpJ9xq0KQ
— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) September 30, 2021
Sidhu has also questioned the appointment of APS Deol as the state’s new advocate general. “My soul jitters when I see those who secured blanket bails, they are advocate general. What is the agenda here,” he had asked on a post on Twitter.
Deol is a senior advocate of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and has been a counsel for former Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini. He had been representing the ex-top cop in various cases against him.
He has also raised questions on the induction of Rana Gurjit Singh as a minister in the Charanjit Singh Channi-led Cabinet.
Singh was included in the ministry despite protests by some party leaders over his past. He had to resign from the Amarinder Singh ministry over allegations of impropriety in the auction of sand-mining contracts.
There was speculation in political circles that Sidhu was not pleased over certain key appointments. Sidhu was appointed the party’s state unit president on July 18 amid a bitter power tussle with Amarinder Singh, who stepped down as the chief minister 10 days back while accusing the party high command of humiliating him.
Sidhu in a tweet on Thursday said Sahota was the head of the special investigation team (SIT) probing the desecration case under the Badal government and “wrongly” indicted two Sikh youths and gave a “clean chit to Badals”. Sidhu further said in 2018, he along with current state Home Minister Sukhjinder Randhawa and the then Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar had met the victims, assuring “support” in fight for Justice.