New Delhi:As the Punjab Congress reels from crisis after crisis, Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu on Saturday declared that post or no post, he would stand by Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
Mr Sidhu – backed by the Gandhi family in his bitter feud with former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh (whose resignation last month precipitated a leadership crisis in the state) – also vowed to “uphold the principles of Gandhiji and Shastriji” and said he remained committed to ensuring a Congress victory.
“Will uphold principles of Gandhiji and Shastriji… Post or no post will stand by Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi! Let all negative forces try to defeat me, but with every ounce of positive energy will make Punjab win, Punjabiyat (Universal Brotherhood) win and every Punjabi win!!” he tweeted.
On Thursday sources said Mr Sidhu, who has received strong support from Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in particular (she convinced Rahul Gandhi to meet the ex-India cricketer in July), would remain as President of the Congress’ Punjab unit, days after he quit over “no compromise” claims.
He had reportedly been angered by certain appointments made by new Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, including those to the Advocate-General and Punjab Police chief’s posts.
The U-turn came after a late-night conversation between Mr Channi and the sulking Mr Sidhu.
“The Congress leadership understands Navjot Sidhu, and Sidhu is not beyond the Congress leadership. He is not Amarinder Singh, who never cared for the Congress and its leadership,” the former cricketer’s advisor, Mohammad Mustafa, declared.
The Sidhu-Amarinder feud exploded last month after Mr Singh declared himself “humiliated thrice” by the Congress’ leadership and quit as Chief Minister.
He later also warned the “Gandhi children” – a reference to Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra – were “quite inexperienced” and their advisors were clearly misguiding them.
Mr Sidhu had hoped to be Mr Singh’s replacement, but the party high command chose Mr Channi.
Instead, Mr Sidhu was chosen to lead the party’s state unit, amid speculation he would eventually replace Amarinder Singh, a veteran of over four decades, as the Congress’ face for the election.
A furious Amarinder Singh has vowed to do everything he can to prevent Mr Sidhu – whom he has called “not a stable man and not fit for the border state of Punjab” – from becoming Chief Minister.