Punjab CM Capt Amarinder, Navjot Singh Sidhu break ice over lunch
Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh and former minister Navjot Singh Sidhu had a meeting at the former’s farmhouse in Siswan near Chandigarh, signalling a rapprochement between the two.
The chief minister had invited Sidhu over for the personal luncheon meeting to break the ice and the two leaders were together for close to an hour. “It was a warm & cordial luncheon meeting that saw CM@capt_amarinder and Navjot Singh Sidhu discuss a host of important political matters of Punjab and national interest. The two leaders spent a pleasant over an hour sharing thoughts on vital issues. @sherryontopp @INCIndia,” the chief minister’s media adviser, Raveen Thurkral, tweeted after the meeting.
The two leaders discussed several issues, including the stir against the Centre’s farm laws on a day the state farmers started their Delhi Chalo march, during the meeting, according to sources privy to details of their interaction.
Sidhu, who has been keeping the media at arm’s length for the past many months, could not be contacted.
FROM FROSTY TIES TO THE THAW
Though Amarinder and Sidhu have been seen together on party platforms twice in the past two months, the meeting was their first in the past one-and-a-half years amid talk of the cricketer-turned-politician’s re-induction into the state cabinet.
The relations between the two leaders were frosty for a long time but things went south when Amarinder stripped Sidhu of the local government portfolio and the latter quit the state cabinet. The CM had blamed his inept handling of the department for the poor performance of the party in urban pockets during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Sidhu maintained a low profile thereafter and kept taking an occasional dig at the state government’s functioning social media but without directly naming the chief minister.
CROWD-PULLING POWER PLUS FOR CONGRESS
The efforts to get the two to bury the hatchet started after former Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat was appointed the All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in-charge of party affairs in Punjab three months ago. He ensured Sidhu’s presence at former Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s tractor rally in Moga last month by going to his house in Amritsar and bringing him along. Rawat, who sees Sidhu’s crowd-pulling power as a huge plus for the Congress at both state and national levels, is pushing for an important role for him ahead of the 2022 assembly elections. Both Amarinder and Sidhu have also been making efforts to mend their relations. The CM had asked Sidhu to second the resolution in the state assembly against the Centre’s farm laws and then the latter also participated in a protest led by the chief minister in Delhi.
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