Punjab Potboiler: Cong Again Headless, With a Brave Face It Huddles to Placate a Sulking Sidhu
There seems to be no end to the Punjab potboiler, which has been simmering since the past couple of months. With former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh being in Delhi “for a personal visit”, a sulking Navjot Singh Sidhu in Patiala and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, who will arrive in the state tomorrow to scout for a CM face, a gripping political potboiler is playing out in Punjab, which is due for polls early next year.
Sidhu’s resignation came as a bolt from the blue for the Punjab Congress, which has yet again become headless. After the exit of Captain Amarinder, the last thing the Congress would have wanted was any sort of rebellion by the cricketer-turned-politician, who was angry at being “slighted” by the top leadership.
The Congress is, however, trying to put up a brave face amid the crisis, with Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi asserting that the party will speak to Sidhu. “I am not aware on what grounds Mr Sidhu has decided to step down. I am still to speak to him, we will reach out to him and convince him,’’ he told reporters in Chandigarh.
But the intrigue doesn’t just end with Sidhu’s angst at being spurned by the party high command. The resignation follows reports that AAP state unit chief Bhagwant Mann had been meeting Sidhu since the last few days at his Patiala residence. Mann has, however, denied such reports. In fact, in a statement, Mann took a swipe at Sidhu, saying: “If the Congress gives a separate chair of ‘Super CM’ to Navjot Singh Sidhu, then he will calm down immediately,” he said.
Sidhu, on his part, has remained incommunicado to not just the media, but to his party men as well. Barring a few trusted aides, none was allowed to meet him at his Patiala residence. Sources said that after attending the cabinet meeting, Congress MLA Pargat Singh was travelling to Patiala to meet Sidhu to try and convince him into taking back his resignation.
With more ministers loyal to Sidhu expected to submit their resignations, observers are now waiting for the next move by the party high command to placate Sidhu. “He is right now in an emotional state of mind. Once senior party leadership reaches out to him, it will be interesting to see what terms and conditions he sets,’’ said a senior leader.