Harish Rawat meets Navjot Singh Sidhu amid Punjab tussle
Congress general secretary Harish Rawat met the party’s Punjab unit chief Navjot Singh Sidhu in Chandigarh on Tuesday to resolve a bitter tussle between the latter and chief minister Amarinder Singh for control of the party.
During the roughly three-hour-long meeting, Sidhu offered to quit his post if he was given “no say in party affairs”, said people privy to details of the meeting. The closed-door event was also attended by Sidhu’s associate, Jalandhar Cantt MLA Pargat Singh and two of the four co-presidents of the party in the state, Kuljit Singh Nagra and Pawan Goel.
The people quoted above said Sidhu conveyed his displeasure to Rawat and said fulfilling poll promises was key to winning the 2022 assembly elections. Sidhu has been alleging that Singh’s government failed in keeping key manifesto pledges.
Rawat asked Sidhu and other leaders to maintain party discipline and not take issues into the public arena, the people quoted in the first instance said.
“If there is an issue, it will be resolved. I’m in Chandigarh for few days. Those who want to meet me, are welcome,” Rawat told reporters after the meeting. He is likely to meet Singh on Wednesday.
Rawat’s visit is aimed at restoring the fragile peace in the state unit that was shattered last week with the chief minister holding a show of strength and Sidhu delivering an ultimatum to the party leadership after a key adviser was forced to quit over controversial comments.
Bitter rivals Sidhu and Singh have vied for control of the party since May; the Congress leadership brokered a truce in June and appointed Sidhu as the state unit chief in July, overriding the CM’s objections.But neither leader backed down.
On Tuesday, Sidhu tweeted alleging that state government had failed to nab drug traffickers. Later in the day, Singh said that 90% of the poll promises made in 2017 were already fulfilled and the rest would be done soon.