Fresh trouble in Cong, minister Ashu opens front against Sidhu
Chandigarh : The Congress faced fresh trouble in Punjab on Friday when cabinet minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu opened a front against state Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu for throwing a spanner in the government efforts and creating confusion in the party, urging the high command to discipline him.
Ashu said the chief ministers, ministers and officers had been working 18 hours day after day and in three months, achieved progress not seen in the first four-and-a-half years, but he (Sidhu) was spoiling everything through his statements. “He is creating confusion by taking digs at the government. He thinks he is the only honest person and everyone else is a thief. We cannot go and fight (the upcoming elections) in this atmosphere,” the minister told HT over the phone, hitting out at Sidhu over his “constant nitpicking”.
The cabinet minister said if he (Sidhu) was of the view that wrong things were happening in the Congress, he should leave the party. “Parties are run on some principles and ideology. He is not the only one in the party. There are platforms where things can be discussed and rectified,” he said, requesting the Congress central leadership to tell him to behave and perform his duties as the PPCC president instead of pursuing his “individualistic agenda”.
2nd minister to target Sidhu in two weeks
The outburst of the minister, who is usually taciturn on the party’s internal matters, is a sign of the growing discord in the Congress over the state chief’s statements. Sidhu’s hectoring attacks on his own party’s government and unilateral announcement of candidates for the upcoming polls have riled up several leaders, including ministers, in the state.
The Punjab Congress president, who is at loggerheads with CM Charanjit Singh Channi, has also repeatedly made a case in the past few days for declaring the CM face, pitching himself for the role. This has not gone well with several senior leaders in the backdrop of the decision to go into the elections under “collective leadership”.
Last week, another cabinet minister Rana Gurjeet Singh had hit out at the PPCC chief for openly criticising Channi and creating divisions within the party to serve his vested interests. A few other cabinet ministers, including Tript Rajinder Bajwa and Sukhjinder Randhawa, are also said to be unhappy over his ways.
From the party’s standpoint, these incessant tussles have not only embarrassed the leadership but are also denting its poll prospects. A senior Congress leader said this situation could not be allowed to persist and the high command would have to take a call on the state chief before it was too late.
‘Needs to learn Congress culture’
Ashu, a two-time MLA from Ludhiana West, said that Sidhu would have to learn the Congress culture as the party was bigger than any individual. “There is a Congress model and ideology. It does not follow the “Sidhu model” or any other propagated by an individual. If someone has an opinion, he should discuss it within the party before going public. The party has the agenda and track record, but needs to put a united face,” he said.
On the PPCC chief’s push for the CM face, he asked which party had declared its chief ministerial candidate. “Has BJP done it? Has the AAP done it? Congress has always gone into the elections under collective leadership, except one time. If the high command has taken a decision, Sidhu should work with discipline accordingly,” he added.
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