Amid the ongoing tussle that escalated political tensions for the Congress party in Punjab ahead of the state assembly polls, the Congress central leadership has appointed cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu as the president of the Punjab Congress unit. The move has come after the episodes of parleys and furores within the party as Punjab had been witnessing a political revolt between Sidhu and his arch-rival Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
In unprecedented events, Punjab Congress was running on the political heat following the tussle between both the leaders over assuming power in the state. As the polls are nearing in the state, the Congress party was troubled with the tussle when it was preparing to retain the reign in Punjab. Amid the tussle, Sidhu had put out the projections that he may quit the party and join the rival. For the past few days, the party's high command in Delhi was filled with speculations and meetings to end the mayhem in the state unit.
In a surprise development, the Congress high command has announced Sidhu as the new president of Punjab Congress. According to reports, Congress Interim President Sonia Gandhi had appointed Navjot Singh Sidhu as the Chief. As Sidhu had won the game, several parts of Punjab had seen celebrations where the supporters of the former cricketer had gathered in important parts of the city including Amristar and Patiala and celebrated the announcement while tensions prevailed in Amarinder Singh's camp.
With the announcement, Sidhu will be replacing Sunil Jakhar, who had been the president of the Punjab Congress unit since 2017. Sidhu was given a warm welcome by his supporters when he reached his residence in Patiala at 11.40 pm on Sunday. Sidhu has been serving as an MLA in the Punjab assembly representing the Amristar East constituency and he was in the rain of wishes and congratulations following the elevation.
Besides tasking Sidhu to lead the party in the state, the Congress leadership has also appointed four working presidents to aid Sidhu in the upcoming assembly polls. The four working presidents include - Sangat Singh Gilzian, Sukhwinder Singh Danny, Pawan Goel, and Kuljit Singh Nagra. In appointing four working presidents which is first-of-its-kind in the state, the reports say that the caste factor played a pivotal role in picking the working presidents.
How is Amarinder Singh's camp?
Things are not right in the Chief Minister's camp as he would be working with his friend turned foe. Sidhu, who was with the BJP, had joined the Congress party in 2017 and Amarinder had kept his eye on the former cricketer over his rise in the party. The Chief Minister has been strongly opposing the Central leadership in awarding a significant role to Sidhu. In 2019, Sidhu was sidelined by Amarinder Singh and the former had resigned from the state cabinet.
Following the resignation, Sidhu had turned into a staunch critic of Amarinder Singh and the former cricketer has been attacking the Chief Minister on Twitter since April. From then on, the tussle was escalated between the two leaders and as the tensions had grown, the Congress leadership had set up a committee to inquire about the party issues in the state and Amarinder Singh had visited Delhi twice amid the tussle. It must be noted that political strategist Prashant Kishor, who is taking care of Amarinder Singh's campaign, had played an important role in bringing Sidhu to the Congress party.
However, despite Amarinder Singh's objection to appointing Sidhu as the party chief in the state, the Congress party has appointed Sidhu as the Punjab Congress president. According to reports, the Chief Minister was unhappy over the appointment as Sonia Gandhi had relinquished Amarinder's objection against Sidhu. After the party had ignored his voice, Amarinder Singh had refused to talk with Sidhu and the Chief Minister had demanded the former cricketer to issue a public apology for voicing against the Congress ruling government in the state.
Though Sidhu has become the new captain of the Team Punjab Congress, the party is yet to umpire the right decision for the state unit in fixing the power tussle between both the leaders. Amarinder Singh's objection and warning were bowled out by the Congress leadership by elevating Sidhu as the party's face in the state. Amarinder Singh earlier warned Sonia Gandhi that the party would split if Sidhu was appointed as the party chief in the state.
The appointment holds an obvious fact that Sidhu has got clear backing from the Gandhis with which he will be the decision-maker and gamechanger in the state's Congress party in the upcoming assembly polls. On the other hand, the party's high command is carrying out an operation to pacify Amarinder Singh, who was unsuccessful in his battle against Sidhu, and to unite both leaders and to keep the amalgamation alive at least until the assembly polls.