Saturday, June 22, 2024

sidhu: Punjab Congress: Navjot Singh Sidhu hardens stand, drives AICC up the wall

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The Congress mess in Punjab continued on Wednesday as the AICC continued to dither, leading to another day of public spectacle, even as rebellious PCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu hardened his stand against the Charanjit Singh Channi regime.

Although party leaders expected Sidhu’s resignation to be accepted, to avoid more embarrassment to the Congress and its regime, the high command continued to drag its feet even after Sidhu failed to respond to the CM’s invitation for talks. The AICC is now left with the choice of either accepting Sidhu’s resignation and its consequences or yielding to him and suffering loss of face for itself and the CM.

In a video message released to the media on Wednesday, Sidhu portrayed himself as a principled leader and the new ministry, formed in consultation with Rahul Gandhi, as a compromised project. “I can’t compromise with my ethics. What I witness is a compromise on issues in Punjab. I can’t disguise the high command, nor can I let them be disguised… I fought for issues concerning Punjab for a long time… There was a system of tainted leaders and officers. You cannot repeat the same system again… I will stand by my principles… I have no personal rivalry with anyone; 17 years of my political career has been to make a difference, to take a stand to make people’s lives better. This is my only religion,” he said in the video clip.

That Sidhu’s stand had not changed even though AICC held back his resignation demonstrated the political management skills of de facto Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Cornered AICC functionaries admitted that if Sidhu refused to give in, the leadership would have no option but accept his resignation and indirectly admit Gandhis’ error of judgement in foisting him. It is a tricky choice: If Sidhu is persuaded to withdraw his resignation, he will become a more demanding PCC chief but if AICC is left to accept his resignation and appoint a replacement, it would open up a pandora’s box on its decisions that forced Amarinder Singh to quit as CM. The AICC brass indicated that it had no choice if Sidhu continued to be defiant in pressing for his resignation.

Congress Punjab MP Manish Tewari made no secret of his dismay over the state of affairs in Punjab. “Whatever Captain Singh had predicted is coming true.”

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