Chandigarh: Even though the party saw a heavy resistance by Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh and many other netas, Congress on Sunday evening appointed Navjot Singh Sidhu as the chief of the party’s Punjab unit.
Sidhu’s appointment comes after days of infighting in the Punjab Congress with the Congress’ central leadership trying to resolve the crisis by holding several meetings with the warring factions.
Sidhu’s appointment attests to the niche that the cricketer-turned-politician has carved for himself since he left BJP and joined Congress in 2017 assembly elections and the way he positioned himself as the anti-Amarinder Singh voice in the Punjab Congress apparatus as well as an anti-Badal campaigner. It also indicated a decisive say of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in party affairs.
Other than Sidhu, Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi also appointed Sangat Singh Gilzian, Sukhwinder Singh Danny, Pawan Goel and Kuljit Singh Nagra as the working presidents of the Punjab Congress unit.
Reacting to Sidhu’s appointment, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said that the party high command “must have taken a thoughtful decision”.
“He is young and was an active parliamentarian. He has the zeal to work so we welcome it,” Kharge said, according to news agency.
“What High Command decided is 100 percent right. No one’s upset, everything will be alright,” Congress MLA Nirmal Singh Shutrana told the agency.
The decision came on the day Singh was quoted as saying that “any decision taken by Congress President Sonia Gandhi will be acceptable to all”.
Senior Congress leader Harish Rawat had met Singh on Saturday, following which the former had tweeted: “I am happy that many things, which are being discussed outside have been proven to be completely baseless and Captain Sahib has reiterated his important statement to the honourable Congress President that whatever decision will be taken regarding the post of President regarding Punjab, he will respect it.(sic)”
Sidhu and Rawat had met Sonia Gandhi on Friday at her residence.
Tensions had intensified in the Congress’ Punjab unit over the past few weeks, with Sidhu censuring Singh, alleging that his colleagues were being threatened for raising questions on the state government’s handling of the ‘sacrilege’ case and for ‘speaking the truth on the matter’.
Singh, on Saturday, had met state in-charge Harish Rawat in Punjab and said the meeting was fruitful but he would take up issues that he raised with party President Sonia Gandhi. According to reports, Singh told Rawat that he won’t meet Sidhu until he apologises for his ‘derogatory’ tweets.
A day earlier the Chief Minister wrote to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and warned that the party would split if Sidhu is given charge of the state Congress.