Punjab picture awaits clarity as Sidhu meets Sonia, Amarinder hosts leaders

By Express News Service
NEW DELHI/CHANDIGARH :  Amid speculations on the elevation of Navjot Singh Sidhu as Punjab Congress chief and reservations expressed by CM Amarinder Singh, the cricketer-turned-politician met party president Sonia Gandhi on Friday. A decision to end the tussle is expected soon.

The one-hour meeting was also attended by Rahul Gandhi and AICC general secretary and Punjab in-charge Harish Rawat. After the meeting at Sonia’s residence in Delhi, Sidhu left without speaking to the media. Rawat said he was there to submit his report on Punjab to the party president and the issue is yet to be decided.

Sources said it is not clear what was discussed in the meeting, but added that Amarinder had expressed displeasure over reports of Sidhu’s elevation on Thursday. Before Sidhu met Sonia, an officer on special duty representing Amarinder met Sonia. It was termed a routine visit.

It’s learnt that Rawat might meet Amarinder. Already, there are indications that some of the party leaders want a Hindu as the Punjab Congress president. Both Amarinder and Sidhu are Jat Sikhs and it is not clear how a majority of party workers in the state would react to the appointment of a Hindu. 

Member of Parliament and senior Congress leader Manish Tewari tweeted: “Demographics of Punjab — Sikhs: 57.75%, Hindus: 38.49%, Dalits:  31:94% (Sikh & Hindus). Punjab is both progressive & secular. But balancing social interest groups is key to equality,” he said, and added a graph showing the religious composition in Punjab.

On Thursday night, there weere hectic activities in Chandigarh, where Amarinder met more than 20 party leaders, including cabinet ministers Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, Aruna Chaudhary and Sunder Shyam Arora. Several MLAs and MPs were also present at his farmhouse. 

Sidhu also met four cabinet ministers and at least six MLAs at the official residence of Co-operative and Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa. Others who attended Sidhu’s two-hour meeting were cabinet ministers Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Charanjit Singh Channi and MLAs Pargat Singh, Kulbir Zira, Barinderjit Singh Pahra and Kuljit Nagra. All this makes the situation in Punjab Congress is complex and complicated.