Owing to a piece of advice given by high command coupled with timely flexibility shown by the wily and crafty Navjot Singh Sidhu to sort out his differences with chief minister Channi, the twin factors did yield some positive result which might check further erosion of the image of government and the party.
High command was reportedly very upset and annoyed with Sidhu for taking a drastic step of tendering resignation without consultations especially when he was appointed Punjab Congress Chief at the cost of Amrinder Singh. High command strongly want Sidhu and Channi to work in tandem which seems to be an uphill task as the former is yet to establish synergy to give a united look which will be fruitful in ensuing assembly elections.
The formation of a three member coordination committee, comprising chief minister, Punjab Congress Chief and AICC in-charge to take crucial decisions in government, may pacify Sidhu as he has now become a part of a policy formulation body thereby giving him weightage which is aimed at having better coordination between government and organization.
Analysts believe that a truce formula worked out between Sidhu and Channi will require the approval of the cabinet and then high command in Delhi which has been purposely done to preserve and establish the supremacy of the chief minister.
Amrinder unable to join BJP
In an another related development in Punjab, former chief minister, Amrinder had dropped a bombshell when he announced his decision to quit Congress because he has been humiliated by the high command while removing him unceremoniously.
But EX CM has ruled out his plan to join Bharatiya Janata Party which can be attributed to its possible fallout related to anger and frustration of farmers in Punjab against the centre who have been agitating since past over ten month against the repeal of three farm laws but their demand has been rejected so far.
Amrinder may float a new outfit prior to Assembly polls
Analysts opine that In case former chief minister takes at least nineteen to twenty MLAs with him then it may pose a threat to the survival of government but it will not be an easy proposition as legislators will face disqualification due to anti defection law. Punjab has got a house strength of 117 which requires a simple majority of 59 and Congress has got 77 MLAs followed by AAP (20) and two independents who can be easily won over by the party in power.
Secondly, Amrinder’s loyalists do not rule out floating of new outfit prior to assembly polls and contest assembly polls with the alliance with BJP and other like-minded parties though his experiment of formation of Shiromani Akali Dal (Panthic) from 1992 to 1998 was a flop one hence he re-joined Congress when Sonia Gandhi took over the reign of the party.
Interestingly, Sidhu had ditched BJP in 2016 by resigning from Rajya Sabha and stunning the BJP leaders on the opening day of the Monsoon session. 'Vajrapaat ho gaya,’ (A thunderbolt has struck) said some senior BJP leaders when he and wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu, a BJP MLA quit the party. He formed a new outfit ‘Aawaaz-e-Punjab’ prior to joining Congress in January, 2017. Sidhu was denied ticket from Amritsar in 2014 and late Arun Jaitley was the BJP candidate who was defeated by Captain Amrinder Singh.
Sidhu’s latest revolt is a culmination of several factors including new chief minister, Channi’s blunt refusal to be his “YES CONGRESS CHIEF, ON THE ANALOGY OF YES PRIME MINISTER”. As PCC chief, Sidhu expected special weightage in ministry composition, in the
appointments of DGP and advocate general which was denied by the high command and CM. Sidhu was also upset over preference given to Jat leader, Sukhjiner Singh Randhawa in his elevation as deputy Chief Minister and later allocation of an important home portfolio.
Sidhu’s staunch loyalists were kept out of Cabinet at Rahul Gandhi's instance. The High Command has also given a clear signal to declare Channi as the face of the party in 2022 assembly polls along with Sidhu. That had abruptly ended his long-cherished dream of becoming CM. The loss to an unassuming Dalit leader doesn't seem to have gone down well with
Punjab Congress chief’s mercurial behaviour was first noticed in his irrational desertion of the Indian cricket team during the 1996 tour of England. Former secretary of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Jaywant Lele’s book in 2012 revealed that Sidhu was very upset over
his captain Mohammad Azharuddin’s use of a Hyderabadi word which he misinterpreted as foul. BCCI inquiry into the incident yielded nothing.
Mohinder Amaranth later found from Sidhu that his captain, Mohammad Azharuddin used to abuse him every morning. Sidhu said that whenever we met, Captain would say Good morning followed by a nasty word “MAA KE …”. Mohinder had a great laugh and made him understand the meaning of this Hyderabadi word which meant “MOTHER’S DEAR CHILD” . Mohinder said it could be an abuse in some northern states of India but it is a way of expressing love. Sidhu had already done the damage. His penchant for extreme impulsive actions has dictated his political conduct too.
Observers feel that Congress high command has to settle the issues of warring factions in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and state units which might be an uphill task especially when the Punjab fiasco has weakened its authority.
(K.S.TOMAR is a national columnist and political analyst)
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.