Chief Minister Amarinder Singh should remain “captain” in the Punjab but his challenger Navjot Singh Sidhu should be “adequately housed”, a congressional panel recommended to the leadership after a series of meetings in Delhi to resolve internal conflicts in the State due to an election next year.
The three-member panel suggested a key role in the Punjabi Congress for cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Sidhu, who has long shunned his feud with Amarinder Singh.
Mr Sidhu “should be adequately housed and all sections of Punjabic society should be fairly represented in leadership and party positions,” the group reportedly advised party leaders, once again leaving them with the difficult question of know how to satisfy the two leaders.
Reports suggest that the chief minister has been reluctant to assume an important role for his rival, either in his cabinet – as an MP – or in party organization.
The committee made up of Rajya Sabha member Mallikarjun Kharge, Punjab party official Harish Rawat and former MP Jai Prakash Agarwal submitted its report to Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Thursday after discussions with more than 100 Punjab leaders , including MPs, Amarinder Singh and Mr. Sidhu.
As a sign that the Punjab Congress remains in crisis, a poster war has erupted between its two most important faces of the state.
First, posters of the chief minister appeared in parts of Mr. Sidhu’s Amritsar East constituency. Then, Mr. Sidhu’s poster appeared on the grounds of “Captain” Patiala.
The tension between the two leaders, ongoing since 2019, has now escalated to a point where Congress can no longer postpone it. Factions have gone public against Mr. Singh and accused him of an “autocratic style” of operation.
Mr Sidhu left the Punjab cabinet in 2019 when he was transferred to what he considered a less important ministry. After a long period of silence, he again targeted the chief minister after the Punjab government suffered a legal setback in a 2015 case involving the desecration of the Sikh religious text Guru Granth Sahib and police gunfire during the peaceful protests.
Critics of Amarinder Singh in the Punjab Congress have accused him of sharing a file with Delhi rulers with the names of those he claims to be involved in corruption.
Congressman Pargat Singh challenged the chief minister to make the names public. “I want to tell Captain Amarinder Singh that he has to say publicly who these corrupt people are. I want to tell him that it is his confession that he is running a corrupt government,” he said.
The chief minister denied such a case.