Punjab Congress leader Harish Rawat’s announcement of party colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu’s elevation to the post of state chief on Thursday set off a flurry of political activity in Punjab’s capital city Chandigarh. However, Rawat soon backtracked on his statement saying a formula was being worked out and no final decision has been taken.
As reports of a ‘peace formula’ being worked out emanated from Delhi, with indications that Navjot Singh Sidhu could be made the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief, hundreds of kilometres away in Chandigarh, political intrigue was on full display.
Moments after party incharge for Punjab, Harish Rawat announced on some TV channels that Sidhu’s appointment has been finalised, the Amarinder Singh camp was taken by surprise with what seemed to be an ‘unscheduled’ announcement. And even as those close to the chief minister started making calls to ‘Delhi’, Rawat issued a clarification claiming he had been misconstrued.
However, the announcement had already set off a political buzz in different camps of the Punjab Congress. What further intrigued the people was Sidhu’s appearance at dissident minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa’s house late evening. Within a short period of time, about half a dozen more leaders joined in. According to sources in the party, Pargat Singh, Tript Bajwa, Charanjit Singh Channi were among those present. With media contingent waiting outside, the leaders tried to avoid making any comment on the meeting.
Around the same time, another set of meetings were taking place. This time at the residence of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. Sources said that some loyal ministers, including Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, met with the CM. Though the agenda of the meeting was unknown, the political situation arising out of the reports of Sidhu’s elevation as PCC chief was discussed, sources said.
Interestingly, media advisor to the CM, Raveen Thukral, tweeted late in the evening denying ‘reports’ that the chief minister had offered his resignation. Calling the reports ‘humbug’, Thukral tweeted that the party will go into the 2022 elections lead by Amarinder Singh. Ironically, no national media had reported anything about the chief minister’s resignation and a denial from the CMs office surprised many.