By Sushil Kutty
Punjab Congress continues to spring surprises. Ousted Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh left a week ago and everybody thought that’s the end of it. But no, Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu had to unbuckle that belief and give Capt. Amarinder Singh another opportunity to say “Didn’t I tell you so?” Sidhu is “unstable”, insists the Capt. “I know him from the time he was a child”.
True, Navjot Singh Sidhu’s sudden resignation from the Punjab Congress president’s post left everyone surprised. His tweet “collapse of a man’s character stems from the compromise corner” left all and sundry wondering “what was this man talking of?” It had something to do with he’ll “never compromise on Punjab’s future”, so the resignation.
As it turned out, the Congress did not “implode” though one Republic TV reporter blared “Punjab Congress is imploding from outside!” Of all the wonders, “imploding from the outside”. At the time, when Sidhu tweeted his resignation, the Congress was actually preparing to induct a couple of “fresh new talent” into the party fold, much less getting ready to “implode”.
Those in the know divulge that Navjot Singh Sidhu isn’t a comedian after all. His resignation was linked to his unhappiness over the induction of a couple of doubtful persons in the Charanjit Singh Channi cabinet. Apparently, Sidhu’s opposition to the names failed to impress the Congress high command.
There are unfounded reports that Sidhu didn’t like a Dalit Chief Minister! But, if that’s true, Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, who is “Dalit Sikh”, wouldn’t have clarified with a certain bonhomie that there were “no differences” between him and Sidhu, and the Congress high command wouldn’t have settled for “we are working to remove Sidhu’s misgivings.”
The Congress would have straightaway told Sidhu to take a walk; that it was not possible to remove the “Dalit Chief Minister”. Navjot Singh Sidhu’s grouse with the party was not because a Dalit CM was appointed. Channi was chosen CM largely on the say-so of Rahul Gandhi and that, too, for a definite reason which had to do with the 2022 assembly elections.
It’s unlikely that Navjot Singh Sidhu would oppose Rahul Gandhi over Channi. He wanted other less significant names scrapped from the list of ministers. Like that of the “tainted” Rana Gurjeet Singh, who is alleged to be the kingpin of Punjab’s sand mafia!
Sidhu, they say, did not like the talk swirl that Rana’s inclusion was Sidhu’s doing. Sidhu had fought the decision with both the new CM as well as the “high command”, but neither power centre had given in to his demand. So, he chose to fend for himself.
Sidhu is maybe a fountain of uncontrollable laughter, but that’s only in the ambience of Sony Entertainment TV! Otherwise, he can lose his temper and talk of “no compromise at all”.
Sidhu’s supporters are adamant that he wouldn’t “compromise” on corruption no matter what. That he would never speak for or support a corrupt politician. And if anybody thought he was the one who wanted Rana Gurjeet Singh in the Channi cabinet, then that “anybody” must be hallucinating. They insist it’s wrong to target Navjot Singh Sidhu for Rana’s induction.
In fact, if anybody should face flak for Rana’s inclusion in the Punjab cabinet, it is the Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi himself. Apparently, “pressure” came from “Delhi” and Channi succumbed. If there’s one thing that the high command should clarify, it’s this lingering suspicion surrounding the CM’s role.
In any case, it’s not just Sidhu, even the people of Punjab, and Congress workers, are not happy with Rana’s induction. The view is, the Congress should not be taking a risk so close to the 2022 assembly elections. As Punjab Congress president Sidhu would be leading the election campaign and he wouldn’t want to lose the elections just because of a tainted minister in the Punjab cabinet!
In fact, Rana was there in Capt. Amarinder Singh’s cabinet, too. But the Capt. removed him from his cabinet for his alleged sand mafia links. And Sidhu couldn’t be seen tolerating a corrupt politician when the man he helped oust from the Chief Minister’s post hadn’t. Sidhu was left with no option but to unravel the Gordian knot with an Alexandrian solution – throw a resignation fit and hope for the best! (IPA Service)