How Amarinder Singh resignation as Punjab CM unfolded: A timeline
- In July 2021, Congress appointed Navjot Singh Sidhu as chief of the state party unit even as Captain resisted his elevation.
Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday announced his resignation after months of a political tussle with his bete noire Navjot Singh Sidhu. Congress returned to power in Punjab in 2017 with a brute majority but soon witnessed infighting in the state unit.
In 2019, Sidhu, who was brought into the Congress fold by Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, resigned from Captain's Cabinet after months of squabbling. Singh had objected to Sidhu's decision to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. He publicly criticised Sidhu for his controversial hug with Pakistan army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa.
But after the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashed the report submitted by a special investigation team (SIT) on the Kotkapura firing case, the rebellion came out in open.
The High Court judgment was a huge setback for the Singh-led Congress government and then state party chief Sunil Jakhar and cabinet minister Sukhjinder Randhawa even offered their resignation over the issue.
Sidhu, who was already vocal against Captain, got support from more MLAs within the party, prompting Congress president Sonia Gandhi to constitute a committee to look into the squabbling. The committee was headed by the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge.
The committee submitted a report on the issue and recommended keeping Singh in command but accommodate Sidhu by giving him a role in the state unit and reorganise the party structure. In July 2021, Congress appointed Sidhu as chief of the Punjab unit even as Captain resisted his elevation for the top post.
Sangat Singh Gilzian, Sukhwinder Singh Danny, Pawan Goel and Kuljit Singh Nagra were appointed as the working presidents, paving the way for a significant revamp in the organisational structure.
But the overhaul failed to address the factionalism in Punjab Congress as Sidhu kept targeting the chief minister over various issues. The rift in the party kept getting wider as Singh, in his own words, felt humiliated by the way talks transpired over the months. He was unhappy with Congress summoning MLAs twice in the past two months and convening the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting in Chandigarh.
"I was humiliated three times by the Congress leadership in the past two months…they called the MLAs to Delhi twice and now convened CLP here in Chandigarh today,” said Captain Amarinder said at a press conference after submitting the resignation to the governor on Saturday.
“I spoke with the Congress president this morning, told them that I will be resigning today,” he added.