CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is learnt to have written to Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday expressing reservation over Navjot Singh Sidhu’s possible appointment as the state party chief.
In another development, AICC general secretary and in-charge of Punjab affairs Harish Rawat is likely to arrive in Chandigarh to meet Amarinder Singh on Saturday even as suspense over the much-awaited announcement from the Congress high command on the resolution of the infighting in the party’s state unit continues.
In a letter to Gandhi, Amarinder Singh is learnt to have mentioned that there could be an adverse impact on the party’s prospects in the upcoming and crucial 2022 assembly polls by ignoring the old guard and other senior party leaders representing Hindu and Dalit communities, sources said.
Sidhu, a former BJP MP, had joined the Congress ahead of the 2017 assembly polls.
There are reports that he is likely to be made Punjab Congress chief.
However, Amarinder Singh has expressed his displeasure over Sidhu being given a key post, said the sources.
There is also talk of appointing two working presidents — a Dalit and a Hindu face to balance the caste equations.
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The names of minister Vijay Inder Singla and MP Santokh Chaudhary were doing the rounds for the post of working presidents.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is a Jat Sikh.
Currently, Sunil Jakhar is the PPCC president.
Rawat is expected to meet the chief minister at his farmhouse at Siswan in Mohali on Saturday afternoon, the sources further said without divulging much about the proposed meeting.
Amid continued internal feud in the state unit of the Congress, Sidhu on Friday met party president Gandhi in Delhi.
Congress leader and chairman of Punjab Large Industrial Development Board Pawan Dewan urged the party to have a representation of the Hindu community on key posts in the state unit.
“Punjab Congress president – Jat Sikh (if Sidhu is made state Congress chief). CM-Jat Sikh. Punjab Youth Congress President- Jat Sikh Campaign Committee Chairman- Jat Sikh, Hindu kaha hai (where is the representation of the Hindu community)?” he tweeted.
Sidhu has been at loggerheads with Amarinder Singh and he had attacked the chief minister over the alleged delay in justice in the 2015 sacrilege and subsequent police firing incidents.
The Punjab CM on Friday also slammed the Aam Aadmi Party over its criticism of his government’s decision on debt waiver for farm labourers and landless farmers, saying it exposed the opposition party’s “anti-farmer stance”.
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AAP had termed the Punjab government’s recent decision of waiving Rs 590 crore worth loans under a farm debt waiver scheme for labourers and the landless farmers as a ploy to fool people ahead of the Assembly polls next year.
“The AAP criticism of my government’s decision on debt waiver exposes Arvind Kejriwal’s party’s anti-farmer stance,” the CM said in a statement.
At the same time, Amarinder Singh said their reaction is on expected lines “considering that the party (AAP) had never shown any interest in doing anything for the farming community”.
“The Kejriwal government in Delhi was among the first to notify one of the controversial and draconian farm laws of the central government. The fact is that AAP does not care for the welfare of the agricultural community and is opposed to any decision that is in favour of the farmers,” he alleged.
He reminded AAP that the debt waiver for farm labourers and landless farmers was not an announcement made on the eve of the 2022 Assembly polls but a promise contained in the Punjab Congress manifesto.
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Despite the severe financial constraints faced by the state government and compounded by the Covid pandemic, he was committed to the implementation of each of the 2017 election promises, he asserted.
He further claimed that even after six years of AAP in power, the people of Delhi were deprived of even basic amenities like water and health care facilities.
“The much-touted Delhi model of governance has proved to be a total failure,” he said, adding that neither Punjab nor any other state wanted a slice of it.
Ridiculing Kejriwal’s promise of free power units in every state he is visiting to kick off the party’s poll campaign, the chief minister dubbed him “as a master of manipulation”.
“Even in Delhi, where AAP government claims to be giving free power, an analysis of the data shows that what the citizens of the national capital are getting in terms of relief in power costs was actually less than in Punjab, apart from the fact that the farmers of Delhi had got not a paisa worth of support or relief from the Kejriwal government,” he claimed.
“It is evident that AAP had manipulated the figures to spread misinformation – an art they have mastered,” he further alleged.