Amid brewing tension within the Punjab congress and stern statements from CM Capt. Amarinder Singh, Navjot Singh Sidhu was appointed as the Punjab Congress ‘Captain’ on Sunday, July 18. Further, four new working presidents of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee have been appointed as well. These 4 individuals are Kuljit Singh Nagra, Pawan Goel, Sukhwinder Singh Danny and Sangat Singh Gilzian.
The appointment was made by Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi and comes after reports of conflict within the state unit kept emerging in the last few days.
On Sunday, the All-India Congress Committee issued a statement which read, “Congress president has appointed Navjot Singh Sidhu as the president of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee with immediate effect.” The announcement came on Sunday evening after the day for the political leaders in Punjab was spent in consolidating their positions, giving their support to either one of the two factions of Navjot Sidhu and Capt. Amarinder Singh.
Seeking guidance of Presidents of the illustrious Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee … Conversations with wise men, worth months of Education !! 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/Tq5uqkbp6m
— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) July 17, 2021
Now Sidhu – along with the 4 new working presidents – will be paving the party’s way for the 2022 assembly elections. The elected leaders ware foreseen to be responsible for the entire revamp of the Congress’ organizational structure. The 4 new working presidents are. – Sangat Singh, Sukhwinder Singh, Pawan Goel, Kuljit Singh.
Congratulations to Shri Navjot Singh Sidhu for being appointed as the President of Punjab Congress. Also, best wishes to Shri Sangat Singh Gilzian, Shri Sukhwinder Singh Danny, Shri Pawan Goel and Shri Kuljit Nagra as Working President appointees. pic.twitter.com/spSvcnclQR
— Punjab Congress (@INCPunjab) July 18, 2021
After the appointment, several Congress leaders took to Twitter and congratulated Sidhu and the 4 new working presidents.
Congratulations to Navjot Singh Sidhu @sherryontopp on his appointment as President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. An important state party organisation must move forward under a dynamic leader, in the service of inclusive and progressive values. pic.twitter.com/t2QdtopMIB
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) July 18, 2021
— Devender Yadav (@devendrayadvinc) July 18, 2021
Congratulations to @sherryontopp on being appointed as President PPCC-No doubt his appointment will infuse new energy in party workers & cadre. Best wishes for journey ahead. pic.twitter.com/VtNh7ot5lJ
— Jaiveer Shergill (@JaiveerShergill) July 19, 2021
Heartiest congrats to Navjot Sidhu @sherryontopp on his appointment as President, @kuljitnagra1, Gilzian, Danny & Pawan Goel Wrkg. Pres. of @INCPunjab. I have sanguine confidence, all Punjab Congress persons will unitedly register a resounding victory in next elections.@INCIndia
— Pawan Kumar Bansal (@pawanbansal_chd) July 19, 2021
The ongoing rift between Capt. Singh and Sidhu
While all – is – well in the Sidhu cap, reports are claiming that him being elevated as the Congress chief will deepen the rift between him and Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh. Capt. Amarinder was reportedly upset with Sidhu and reports of rift between the two of them were warm in the news. In a recent AICC meeting, he told the AICC’s General Secretary Harish Rawat that any decision made by the Congress will be acceptable to him. However, Capt. refused to meet Sidhu till he made a public apology to him.
The Origins of the Conflict
To say Singh and Sidhu had stern relations would be an understatement. A BJP incumbent, Sidhu joined the Congress in 2017 before the assembly polls. The former cricketer-turned-commentator-turned-politician was included in the Punjab cabinet’s tourism and cultural affairs minister. The first round of reports of a conflict between Singh and Sidhu came when Sidhu quit Capt. Singh’s cabinet in 2019 after the latter changed his portfolio.
Sidhu as Capt. Singh’s Critic
Since then, the verbose public speaker also became an outspoken critic of Captain Amarinder Singh. On May 1, Sidhu shared a video on Twitter where Capt. Singh can be heard promising to take actions against Badals. As the issue is still in purgatory, Sidhu captained the video saying, “Big Boast, Small Roast …Big Outcry, No Outcome …”
— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) May 1, 2021
On May 10, he shared another video of Capt. Singh and wrote, “Nefarious intentions are evident, No High Court stopped you in 4-1/2 yrs ! When DGP/CPS appointments are set aside, orders are challenged in Higher Courts in matter of hours. Now, first you attack the High Court, than from backdoor accept same orders to deflect People’s attention.”
Nefarious intentions are evident, No High Court stopped you in 4-1/2 yrs ! When DGP/CPS appointments are set aside, orders are challenged in Higher Courts in matter of hours. Now, first you attack the High Court, than from backdoor accept same orders to deflect People’s attention pic.twitter.com/H7fWSLVk41
— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) May 10, 2021
In July, Sidhu launched another attack on Capt. Singh’s government and its handling of the Punjab power crisis. Sidhu shared as many as 9 tweets against the Punjab Chief Minister. The issue arose when the Chief Minister cut short office hours and reduced power supply to industries to meet the summer demand.
Truth of Power Costs, Cuts, Power Purchase Agreements & How to give Free & 24 hour Power to the People of Punjab:- 1. There is No need for Power-Cuts in Punjab or for the Chief Minister to regulate office timings or AC use of the Common People … If we Act in the right direction
— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) July 2, 2021