Express News Service

CHANDIGARH:  Days after Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh complained to Sonia Gandhi on state Congress unit president Navjot Singh Sidhu’s continuing criticism of the government, Sidhu on Monday appointed a known Amarinder baiter, Pargat Singh, as party’s general secretary (organisation). The elevation of Jalandhar Cantonment MLA Pargat Singh, the former captain of the Indian Hockey team, had the blessings of the high command.

Pargat’s appointment is set to further strain the already fraught relations between Sidhu and Singh, with observers saying this could give the opposition parties pushed to the periphery a toehold. A few days ago, Sidhu had appointed four advisers as a precursor to the selection of district unit presidents, office-bearers and district level coordinators. Singh had sought a say in these matters prior to Sidhu’s appointment, but to no avail.

The elevation of Pargat coincided with the resignation of Punjab Water Resources Management and Development Corporation chairman Jagbir Brar from Congress. He re-joined the Shiromani Akali Dal on Monday. Brar and Pargat were rivals; the latter had joined Congress on the condition that he would get the Jalandhar Cantonment ticket at the expense of Brar.

Party insiders claimed the fight between rival power centres in Singh and Sidhu may worsen. “Sidhu’s elevation has weakened the authority of Singh and Sidhu is yet to establish his grip. A weak Amarinder is not in interest of the party. The high command has not read the situation correctly,” a senior leader said.Sidhu has already declared that he would introduce a resolution in the state Assembly to make the STF report on drugs public to give a push to the party’s 18-point agenda.