Punjab Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, days after reaching a truce of sorts with Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, has drawn up a 13-point agenda on governance – “priority areas” and promises made before 2017 polls he said “the state government must deliver upon”. Mr Sidhu’s suggestions, sent in a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, range from arrest in drugs cases, creation of agricultural infrastructure and laws to control “cable mafia”.
He also asked Mrs Gandhi that the party direct the state government to act on those lines as a “last damage control measure” – a request that might reopen his rift with the Chief Minister.
Mr Sidhu shared on Twitter the letter written on October 15 — a day after he met Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and K C Venugopal and withdrew his resignation as Punjab Congress president. However, he did not put his designation as state Congress chief in the letter.
He has also sought a meeting with Mrs Gandhi to present a 13-point agenda for next year’s election manifesto which, he said, are long-term goals and separate from the issues he flagged in the letter.
The biggest critic of the Amarinder Singh government who hoped to succeed him to the top post, the cricketer-turned-politician asserted in the letter that this was Punjab’s “last chance for resurrection and redemption”.
From being the richest state in the country, Punjab is now the most indebted, he wrote. The issues he flagged include sacrilege cases, Punjab’s drug menace, agricultural issues, employment opportunities, sand mining and welfare of backward castes, electricity and transport and stresses that they need to be resolved at the earliest.
“Thus, I request you please kindly consider these points and give your august direction to the State Government to act in the best interests of the People of Punjab immediately,” he wrote.
Mr Sidhu, the biggest critic of the Amarinder Singh government, had hoped to succeed him to the top post. He ran into trouble with Mr Singh’s successor — Mr Channi – as soon as he took over.
Making his displeasure felt with appointments and cabinet reshuffle under the new chief minister, Mr Sidhu resigned as Punjab Congress chief last month. He was back on board the next day after the Chief Minister agreed to consider his suggestions.
His absence at the wedding of Mr Channi yet again signalled that all is not well.
Now, his request to the Congress president to give directions to the Charanjit Singh Channi government is now seen as an indication that the state party chief’s tussle with the Chief Minister is far from over.