Sidhu to take charge as Punjab Congress chief today; CM Amarinder to attend ceremony
Navjot Singh Sidhu is set to take charge on Friday as the president of the Congress unit in Punjab, replacing Sunil Jakhar on the post. Chief minister Amarinder Singh will attend the "installation ceremony" along with other party leaders, news agencies reported, signalling a truce within the dissension-riven party.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday appointed Sidhu as the new chief of the party's Punjab unit, despite strong opposition from chief minister Amarinder Singh. She also appointed four working presidents -- Sangat Singh Gilzian, Sukhwinder Singh Danny, Pawan Goel, and Kuljit Singh Nagra -- to assist Sidhu in the run-up to the Punjab assembly elections scheduled to be held next year.
Navjot Singh Sidhu, in a separate letter, requested Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh to "come and bless the new [Congress] team". He reiterated his commitment to the people of the state and said that his only aim is to fulfill the Congress high command's "pro-people" 18-point agenda for Punjab.
"My resolve and commitment on Punjab's issues and fulfilling high command's pro-people 18-point agenda for the welfare of every Punjabi is well-known to you and all," Sidhu wrote in the letter, issued in an apparent bid to make up his differences with the chief minister. "Thus as the eldest of our Punjab Congress family, I request you to please come and bless the new team."
Sidhu and Amarinder Singh have been at loggerheads for some time, with the cricketer-turned-politician recently attacking the chief minister over desecration cases in the state. Much of the tension between the two politicians flared earlier this year in April when the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashed a probe report into the 2015 Kotkapura police firing incident.
Sidhu, who joined the Congress after leaving the BJP before the 2017 assembly polls, attacked the chief minister through his tweets over the issue of alleged delay in justice in the 2015 sacrilege and subsequent police firing incidents. The Amritsar legislator later resigned as the minister in 2019 after he was divested of his local bodies portfolio.
Although Amarinder Singh earlier demanded an apology from Sidhu over what he called "derogatory" tweets, the 62 Congress legislators who gathered at the cricketer-turned-politician's residence this Wednesday in a show of strength said that there was no need to tender an apology as the party stands "united".