New Delhi: Just as the Congress thought that it had resolved the discord in its Punjab state unit chief, PCC president Navjot Singh Sidhu fired a salvo at the high command on Tuesday in the form of his resignation letter from the post. In a missive to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Mr Sidhu wrote: “The collapse of a man’s character stems from the compromise corner. I can never compromise on Punjab’s future and the agenda for the welfare of Punjab. Therefore, I hereby resign as president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. Will continue to serve the Congress.”
It’s now a free for all in the Punjab Congress. State minister Razia Sultana resigned from the state Cabinet on Tuesday, just hours after Mr Sidhu announced his resignation. She said she was resigning “in solidarity with Navjot Singh Sidhu”. Some other party office-bearers have also sent their resignation from their respective posts. Several other state ministers and party leaders close to Mr Sidhu are also expected to resign soon. If this trend continues, the state may head towards political instability. This may lead to two possible outcomes – either yet another change of chief minister, or in an extreme case President’s Rule.
The problem arose when Mr Sidhu started acting as a “petulant child”, much to the discomfiture of the high command. He opposed almost all the inputs and suggestions that were conveyed by the high command. In fact, he also walked out midway from a meeting with AICC general secretary in charge of the state, Mr Harish Rawat. First, he had put his foot down when the party was considering Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa for the post of chief minister, so eventually Charanjit Singh Channi was made the chief minister and Mr Randhawa was made deputy CM. Mr Sidhu again objected as the home portfolio was given to Mr Randhawa.
Mr Sidhu was also upset over the induction of Rana Gurjit Singh in the Punjab Cabinet, with the dropping of PPCC working president Kuljit Singh Nagra, and with the PWD portfolio going to Vijay Inder Singla. In addition, he opposed the appointment of A.P.S. Deol as Punjab advocate general as Mr Deol was defending those accused in the Punjab sacrilege case. Insiders say Mr Rana Gurjit Singh was dropped from the Cabinet of former CM Capt. Amarinder Singh over the sand mining issue.
Meanwhile, former chief minister Capt. Amarinder Singh opened a full-frontal attack on Mr Sidhu, and in his initial reaction said: “I told you so… He is not a stable man and not fit for the border state of Punjab.” He then went on to add: “Mr Sidhu’s resignation within two months of his appointment suggests that he is preparing ground to leave the Congress and join another party ahead of the Punjab Assembly polls. I have known this boy since his childhood and he has been a loner and never a team player. People don’t vote for buffoonery.” Congress Lok Sabha MP Ravneet Singh Bittu also targeted Mr Sidhu, saying: “Was he sent by the RSS and the BJP into the Congress? This question can also be asked.”
State chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi said the party will speak to Mr 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 try to convince him.”
The entire Punjab imbroglio has also raised a big question mark over the abilities of siblings Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Insiders claim they were naïve to trust Mr Sidhu and oust Capt. Amarinder Singh as chief minister in this fashion. A leader said on condition of anonymity: “They pampered Sidhu too much. So much so that he was uncontrollable even for the general secretary in charge, Harish Rawat. They and only they are to be blamed for the present mess prevailing in Punjab.” Adding injury to insult, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul were crossing Chandigarh hours before the resignation letter was tweeted by Mr Sidhu.