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With Navjot Singh Sidhu's issues 'sorted', Congress is back to square one in Punjab

·4 min read

It seems the Congress upheaval in Punjab has come to an end.

After causing a storm, Navjot Singh Sidhu on Friday night said that his concerns had been resolved, with the party adding that he would continue as the head of the state unit.

Congress general secretary and Punjab in-charge Harish Rawat told reporters on Friday that Sidhu had withdrawn his resignation and that he would continue in his post.

"Whatever concerns I had, I have shared with Rahul Gandhi ji. All my concerns have been sorted out," the former cricketer-turned-politician told reporters after the over half-an-hour-long meeting with Gandhi in New Delhi.

So, what does this mean for the party? Let's take a look.

Sidhu's resignation

On 28 September, Sidhu created a storm when he posted his decision to resign on Twitter. His announcement came shortly after Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi had declared his state cabinet.

In his resignation letter addressed to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, he had written that he could never compromise on Punjab's future and the agenda for the welfare of the state.

As per reports, he was not happy with the appointment of the new Punjab Police chief and the advocate general, besides some portfolio allocations to ministers after the new cabinet formation.

His resignation grabbed headlines as it came just 10 days after Amarinder Singh quit the chief minister's post amid his tussle with the former.

Placating Sidhu

Soon after, Congress reached out to him. Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi called him for a meet on 1 October and said that issues would be resolved in an amicable manner.

A two-hour-long meet was held by the two in the state capital in which the two agreed to an agreement on 'contentious' appointments.

A few hours after the meet, Channi's government sent a panel of names for the post of director-general of police €" as Sidhu had opposed the appointment of DGP IP Singh Sahota. Sidhu was 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.

It was also decided that a three-member coordination panel would be set up, which would be consulted before any major decisions by the Punjab government in the future.

The appointment of the Advocate General, which was another sticking point, would also be decided by the high command, it had been reported.

Meeting with Gandhi

After much hullabaloo, Sidhu met Rahul Gandhi on Friday and a resolution to the issues was achieved.

As per a PTI report, Harish Rawat, who was also present at the meeting, later said the issue of his resignation is over now.

"He has assured Rahul Gandhi that he is withdrawing his resignation and resuming his duty as PCC chief," he told reporters.

Sidhu told Gandhi that he is working hard and will work harder now and that he will join his duty as Punjab Congress president, Rawat said.

"Navjot Sidhu has shared his concerns with party leaders and it is our duty to talk to the chief minister and resolve the remaining issues. We have told him his concerns will be taken care of very soon," he also said.

What next?

The Congress now hopes that with all its drama behind, a unified front of Navjot Singh Sidhu and Charanjit Singh Channi would be able to help the party's chances in the upcoming Assembly polls in the state.

Punjab will go to the polls early next year and the Congress hopes to retain power in the state. However, things won't be smooth sailing even if things seem normal.

With Amarinder Singh quitting, he now seems to be a likely threat and even if he doesn't contest the elections, as some believe he might, he could easily dent the Congress' chances.

There have been reports that the Captain would float a new party ahead of the polls, which would spell trouble for Congress.

Even in the case that he doesn't do so, there always hangs the spectre of him joining the BJP, even though he has categorically stated that he won't.

Furthermore, Congress also faces the onslaught of the Aam Aadmi Party and the alliance of the Shiromani Akali Dali with the Bahujan Samaj Party.

The AAP has promised various welfare measures including free electricity and an uninterrupted power supply to woo the voters.

As per a Financial Times report, which cites the ABP News-C-Voter opinion poll, Punjab may witness a neck and neck fight between the AAP and the Congress and that may put the SAD-BSP alliance in the kingmaker's seat.

Whatever may be the case, one thing is sure that the Congress has been shaken. It remains to be seen how far the tremors were felt.

With inputs from agencies

Also See: Navjot Singh Sidhu meets party leaders at AICC HQs, says he has full faith in Sonia Gandhi's leadership

Charanjit Singh Channi to meet Amit Shah in Delhi shortly, likens Lakhimpur Kheri incident with Jallianwala Bagh tragedy

Centre's BSF jurisdiction order: Punjab minister Pargat slams Amarinder, he hits back

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