The Congress’s Punjab In-Charge, Harish Rawat, was today flown into Chandigarh in a state government chopper to meet Chief Minister Amarinder Singh even as the rebellion in the party’s unit there continued to simmer. The senior leader’s arrival came hours after indications that cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu may be given a promotion in order to quell the revolt.
Mr Rawat was flown in a day after Mr Singh, according to sources, wrote to Congress President Sonia Gandhi objecting to Mr Sidhu’s reported elevation as chief of the party’s state unit, replacing Sunil Jakhar.
The cricketer-turned-politician’s promotion was part of the compromise formula reportedly arrived at by the party following a series of separate meetings between the Gandhis, Mr Sidhu, and Mr Singh. The Chief Minister had last week said he would accept “whatever decision is taken by the Congress high command”.
Two other leaders — one from the Dalit community and the other, a Hindu face — were likely to be named Working Presidents, according to the deal.
Hours after Mr Sidhu’s meeting with the Gandhis, his supporters even organised “celebrations” in Chandigarh though no announcement was made.
Party sources, however, later said that Mr Singh was not on board with the plan. Speaking to the media, Mr Rawat, who was present in Mr Sidhu’s meeting with the Gandhis last week, said he had “never said” Mr Sidhu would be made Punjab Congress chief.
The feud between Mr Singh and Mr Sidhu has been on since the 2017 state elections. Mr Sidhu, who joined the party after a stint in the BJP, hoped to be made Deputy Chief Minister. But the move was reportedly scuttled by Mr Singh.