Sidhu likely to continue as Punjab Congress chief after Channi meet, say sources; not joining BJP: Amarinder

Channi, meanwhile, has called a cabinet meeting on 4 October at the Secretariat, ANI reported

FP Staff September 30, 2021 23:17:29 IST
Sidhu likely to continue as Punjab Congress chief after Channi meet, say sources; not joining BJP: Amarinder

Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi and Navjot Singh Sidhu. PTI

There seems to be no slowing down in the churning of Punjab politics.

The suspense over the resolution of issues raised by Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu continued Thursday evening after a two-hour meeting between him and Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi.

Channi first left the meeting venue around 6 pm while Sidhu came out about half an hour later. No party leader spoke to the media after the meeting concluded. Channi, meanwhile, has called a cabinet meeting on 4 October at the Secretariat, ANI reported.

Sidhu bowls a googly

Sidhu will continue as the Punjab Congress chief and a coordination panel is likely to be set up, which is expected to be consulted before any major decisions by the Punjab government in future, party sources said on Thursday.

The decision was reached after an over two-hour meeting at the Punjab Congress Bhavan between Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and Sidhu, who had resigned from the post of the state party chief on Tuesday.

The panel may comprise the CM, Navjot Singh Sidhu and a representative of the AICC, the sources said.

The All-India Congress Committee (AICC) is expected to make an announcement in this regard, the sources said.

However, it is still unclear how differences over the appointment of the DGP and the AG will be dealt with.

These developments come a day after Channi reached out to Sidhu and offered to resolve issues through talks.

"Chief Minister has invited me for talks will reciprocate by reaching Punjab Bhawan, Chandigarh at 3:00 pm today, he is welcome for any discussions!",  Sidhu, who had on Tuesday resigned as the state Congress chief, earlier said.

Sidhu on Wednesday had raised questions over the appointments of director general of police, state's advocate general and tainted leaders. Shortly before his meet with Channi, Sidhu took to Twitter this time, attacking Director General of Police Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota. Reports state that Sidhu is upset with Sahota's appointment as he had allegedly given a clean chit to the Badals as well as Baba Ram Rahim of Dera Sacha Sauda in the sacrilege cases.

The Punjab unit of the Congress is in turmoil after Amarinder Singh was removed as chief minister and its chief Sidhu resigned from his post ahead of the crucial Assembly elections in the state early next year.

Factionalism in Punjab Congress has come to the fore over recent appointments of the new cabinet and other top officials.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Channi had said, "I have spoken to Sidhu sahab over telephone today. The party is supreme and the government accepts the party's ideology and follows that. (I told him that) You come, sit and talk". "If you (Sidhu) feel there is anything wrong, you can point it out," he said.

When asked what was Sidhu's response, Channi had said the leader told him that he would sit and talk, and would give him time for a meeting.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Amarinder Singh on Thursday met National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, a meeting which comes a day after he met Home Minister Amit Shah amid speculation over his future move after resigning as Punjab chief minister. Singh met Doval at his residence in New Delhi. The meeting between the two lasted for around 30 minutes.

After the meeting, the National Security Advisor (NSA) left for the residence of Shah. Singh's meeting with Shah on Wednesday had added another dimension in politics in Punjab where no party is being seen as a clear favourite in the polls, expected to be held early next year. The politically significant meeting raised speculation over his future plans ahead of the polls in Punjab with some political analysts viewing it as an indication that Singh may be seeking the support of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). After his one-hour meet with Amit Shah on Wednesday, the Captain said he had discussed the farm laws at the core of an 11-month farmers' protest and ways to resolve the deadlock. He said he had urged Amit Shah to guarantee minimum support price to farmers and support Punjab in crop diversification.

His team called the meeting with Shah a "courtesy visit" and sources said he had not taken any decision on joining the BJP.

After the meetings, Amarinder Singh in an interview to NDTV stated that he was not joining the BJP, but definitely quitting the Congress.

"So far I am in the Congress but I will not remain in the Congress. I have already made my position very clear. I will not be treated in this manner," the Captain was quoted as saying.

Soon after the reveal, he removed "Congress" from his Twitter bio.

On the question over his meeting with Amit Shah, Singh asserted: "I am not joining the BJP", adding, "I have not resigned from the Congress but I will resign. I am not a person who takes split-second decisions. But I am not joining the BJP."

Uttar Pradesh and Punjab are among the five states going to the assembly polls early next year.


With inputs from PTI

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