Chandigarh: The much-awaited meeting between Punjab CM Amarinder Singh and Navjot Singh Sidhu happened with the former hosting the new PCC chief and other Congress MLAs and MPs over tea at Punjab Bhawan and the two warring factions of state Congress projecting a united face.
Minutes later, the CM attended the ceremony at the Punjab Congress office as Sidhu formally took charge as PCC chief. Amarinder congratulated him and talked about “working together for the welfare of Punjab”, just days after putting a precondition of a public apology by the Amritsar East MLA for his tweets against the CM.
The cricketer-turned-politician indicated hitting a six – mimicking his batting style – as he went past the CM on the dais to deliver his speech at the event. Amarinder struck a conciliatory note, telling party workers, “It is your responsibility to support the party president.” Sidhu spoke of infusing new life in the party cadres, while listing the various issues facing the state – farmers’ stir, sacrilege case, protests by various employee groups and the previous government’s power purchase agreement with companies. “CM saheb, there are issues that need to be resolved,” he said. “Punjab is asking questions. Why should electricity be bought at Rs 18 per unit? Why shouldn’t the truth of the power purchase pacts be brought out?” On the other hand, Amarinder listed the achievements of his government and stressed on strengthening the party. “When Sonia ji told me that they want to make Navjot Singh the new president, I came out and told the press that we will bow before the decision of the Congress president. Now we will have to be together in the fight for keeping Punjab and our country safe.”
Sidhu hosts 62 Cong MLAs
Earlier, in what appears to be a show of strength, Sidhu hosted 62 party MLAs at his residence in Amritsar. The meeting assumes significance as it comes amid a public tussle between Sidhu and Amarinder Singh, who was strongly opposed to the former's elevation. Among the prominent ministers who reached Sidhu's house were Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Charanjit Singh Channi and Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria besides outgoing state unit chief Sunil Jakhar. Only 18 out of the 80 Congress MLAs in Punjab skipped the meeting.
Later, Sidhu, along with the MLAs, boarded luxury buses and went to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, where a large number of Congress supporters gathered. They also went to the Durgiana temple and Ram Tirath Sthal.