New Delhi: Navjot Sidhu should sack his advisors and if he fails to do so, the party will, senior Congress leader Harish Rawat told on Wednesday. The clear message for the new Punjab Congress chief comes after a fresh outburst of rebellion against Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, when he called out “atrocious and incorrect” comments from Mr Sidhu’s advisers.
Pyare Lal Garg and Malwinder Mali, who recently joined Mr Sidhu’s team, made headlines with their comments last week on Pakistan and Kashmir. In Facebook posts, Mr Mali suggested that both India and Pakistan were illegal occupants in Kashmir.
“It is not this or that camp who objected (to those statements). The whole party and the state have objections too. The party has a line on Jammu and Kashmir — that it is a part of India,” Harish Rawat , the Congress in-charge of Punjab, told in an exclusive interview.
Asked how the party would tackle the controversy, Mr Rawat said, “These advisers were not appointed by the party. We have asked Sidhu to dismiss them. If Sidhu does not do that, I will. We do not want people who embarrass the party.”
Mr Rawat sidestepped the question of whether Amarinder Singh would remain the Chief Ministerial candidate and the face of the party during the election . “We cannot repeat the same thing,” he said.
“Every party has a set procedure. We will follow that. When the new legislature of the party sits (after the election in case of a victory) then they will take a decision,” he said.
Mr Singh’s critics are demanding his removal. “The captain should be changed otherwise Congress will not survive. We will meet Sonia Gandhi on this issue,” Punjab minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa said after a meeting of 23 party MLAs, including four ministers, on Tuesday.
Mr Rawat played down the rebellion against Mr Singh, saying the leaders he met on Wednesday afternoon did not demand the chief minister’s removal. He claimed that the issues he raised were local issues which would be taken up with the party leadership.
He also vehemently denied that the persisting crisis in the state could be a telling comment on the party leadership’s abilities.
He said, “As things progress the issues come to the fore and it is up to the local leaders how they address it. In this case, the government could not solve it and hence things escalated to this stage. ”
Asked whether the matter will be resolved before next year’s state elections, Rawat said, “There is no question of the issue not being resolved as they (MLAs) have said that they will take the decision of the party leaders.” … these things happen in any dynamic party. We will sort it out. We have a process.”