Rahul Gandhi today said there was no meeting scheduled with Navjot Singh Sidhu a day after the disgruntled Punjab Congress leader’s team said he had a “meeting with the Gandhis”.
On Monday, Navjot Sidhu’s team had said he would meet with Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in Delhi.
The cricketer-turned-politician had sought a meeting with the Gandhis to press for his demands in the middle of his intense feud with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
So had Amarinder Singh, who was in Delhi last week for a second meeting with the three-member Congress committee formed by party chief Sonia Gandhi to resolve the Punjab infighting. His expected meet with the Gandhis did not happen, even though the party made it clear that he will lead the Congress in the election.
It was surprising, in the circumstances, when Mr Sidhu’s office announced that he was meeting with the Gandhis today.
Both Amarinder Singh and Mr Sindhu have met with the committee more than once. However, no solution so far has achieved the approval of either.
Mr Sidhi, a former BJP leader who joined the Congress ahead of the 2017 Punjab election, has made it clear to the party leadership that he is no longer ready to be treated as a “showpiece” during the election campaign. He has repeatedly targeted the Chief Minister, accusing him of sidelining him and trying to suppress him.
But despite the panel suggesting that Mr Sidhu’s candidates should be given a share in the cabinet and in the Congress in Punjab, Amarinder Singh has been resistant to the idea.
Mr Sidhu, 57, who is known to have Rahul Gandhi’s support and is a hugely popular face with a following both in the state and the party, is among several leaders challenging Mr Singh’s leadership in the state.
One of the key triggers of the revolt is the Punjab government’s legal setback in a 2015 case involving the desecration of the Sikh religious text Guru Granth Sahib and police firing during peaceful protests.
Mr Sidhu and other critics of the Chief Minister say his government did not do enough to bring justice in the case.
The most recent flashpoint was Mr Singh’s move to give government jobs to the sons of two Congress MLAs on “compassionate” grounds — Mr Sidhu had accused him of giving jobs to elitist people”.
Last week, Mr Sidhu told NDTV he was ready to work with Mr Singh but only if the Chief Minister met promises made to the people before the last assembly elections.
He also refuted allegations that he damaging the party in one of the few states where it was in power on its own steam. “It is damaging if you address issues like sacrilege? Every MLA is raising this issue. All 78 MLAs are with me,” he questioned.
With inputs from NDTV