Turmoil in Punjab Cong: 3 ministers seek Sidhu’s scalp after his fresh salvo at Captain
Five party leaders, including three cabinet ministers and two senior MPs, met at jails minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa’s official residence and discussed the disenchantment in the party over the botched-up investigation in the politically sensitive sacrilege and police firing cases
The ruling Congress appears to be in turmoil in Punjab over the sacrilege and police firing cases with former minister Navjot Singh Sidhu again targeting chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Monday and three cabinet ministers demanding disciplinary action against the “dissident MLA” for his anti-party actions.
While the Amritsar East MLA, who has been hitting out at Amarinder on a daily basis, accused the chief minister of “nefarious intentions”, five party leaders, including three cabinet ministers and two senior MPs, met here at jails minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa’s official residence and discussed the disenchantment in the party over the botched-up investigation in the politically sensitive case.
Ludhiana MP Ravneet Singh Bittu, Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa and cabinet ministers Charanjit Singh Channi and Gurpreet Singh Kangar were among the party leaders present at the minister’s residence. “There is widespread resentment among the party MLAs who are not sure how they will go and face the people in their constituencies if justice is not delivered in these cases,” Bittu told a private channel said after the meeting, demanding prompt action against the Badals.
Bittu assails Amarinder
Attacking the CM, Bittu said if he cannot do anything, he should give the home ministry to some other party MLA or member of his cabinet to ensure justice in the matter.
“Our fight is not against any individual, but it is a question of our identity and existence. We are trying to pressure our government to get the new SIT to file the challan in the police firing cases in a month and ensure day-to-day hearing,” Bajwa said after the meeting.
The chief minister’s camp tried to placate Randhawa, who had offered his resignation at a cabinet meeting two weeks ago over the special investigation fiasco.
Randhawa and Channi, who has also been critical of the state government’s handling of the matter, were among half-a-dozen MLAs who met Sidhu and his close associate, Jalandhar Cantonment MLA Pargat Singh, in Panchkula last week. The meeting was seen as an attempt by the Captain’s detractors led by Sidhu to bring together the ministers and MLAs upset over the 2015 incident.
One of the discontented ministers also called up the SC MLAs for a meeting here on Tuesday. “He asked me to come to Chandigarh to discuss issues related to the community,” said a party legislator who did not want to be named.
Taking exception to Sidhu’s continued no-holds barred attacks, the chief minister’s camp has demanded strict disciplinary action against him. Cabinet ministers Brahm Mohindra, Sunder Sham Arora and Sadhu Singh Dharamsot said the dissident MLA’s unmitigated onslaught on the CM was an act of gross indiscipline and an attempt to undermine the Congress government. Sidhu’s personal attack on Amarinder was an anti-party act, which called for immediate disciplinary action, they said in a statement.
Open rebellion can trigger unrest: Capt camp
“The open rebellion is damaging the interests of the Congress at a time when the state assembly elections are less than a year away,” they said.
The ministers warned that the failure to take action against Sidhu now could trigger unrest in the party’s state unit, which would be fatal for the party, which has suffered major electoral blows in the recently concluded assembly polls in five states.
The ministers appealed to the party’s central leadership to nip this insurgence in the bud. The demand for action came hours after Sidhu accused Amarinder of first attacking the high court and then accepting its orders from the backdoor to deflect people’s attention.
“Nefarious intentions are evident. No high court stopped you in four-and-a-half years! When DGP/CPS appointments are set aside, orders are challenged in higher courts. Now, first you attack the high court, then from backdoor accept same orders to deflect people’s attention,” Sidhu posted on Twitter, sharing the video clip of the chief minister’s interview to a private channel in which he called the court order as “totally political” and “one sided”.