Chandigarh: Just over a month after being appointed as Punjab PCC chief with the blessings of the Gandhis, Navjot Singh Sidhu displayed his belligerent face by telling the Congress high command that he should be given freedom to take decisions or else “I will give a befitting reply (itt naal itt wi bajaun)”.
Sidhu’s confrontational stand comes after Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh – who clearly appeared to be on the backfoot just a month ago – recovered lost ground in the state power play in the last few days, with Congress’s Punjab in-charge Harish Rawat declaring that the party would fight the assembly elections under the CM’s leadership.
The former cricketer’s dare of sorts to the party high command amid his escalating feud with Amarinder comes after Rawat asked Sidhu to sack his advisers Pyare Lal Garg and Malwinder Singh Mali for their controversial statements on Kashmir and Pakistan or else he would do so.
Speaking at a public meeting in Amritsar, Sidhu said, “I have told the (party) high command only one thing. If I fulfil the aspirations of the people and (implement) the Punjab model, I won’t let the Congress lose out in politics for the next 20 years. But if you don’t let me take decisions, ‘main itt naal itt wi bajaun’. Because there is no use being a darshani ghoda (showpiece).” Reacting to Sidhu’s remarks, Rawat told mediapersons that within the limits of the Congress traditions and the party’s constitution, Sidhu already has the freedom to take decisions. “I can’t question him on the basis of media speculation... I will see the context of the statement. He has his own style of saying things. He is the party chief, who other than him can take decisions?” Rawat, who met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Delhi over the infighting in the Punjab unit, told mediapersons after the meeting.
“I have briefed her about the latest situation. I’ve told her that all parties will follow her instructions. There have been a few problems but we're trying to resolve them. Things are under control… There are two-three groups there and we expect that they will respect each other’s feelings and work together… It is expected that the chief minister, PPCC chief or the ministers will respect each other and work together. It is within the democratic right of MLAs and others to express their point of view. But it is for the Congress president to take a decision on the issues.”
Sidhu's adviser quits
Under fire over his controversial comments on Kashmir, Malvinder Singh Mali quit as adviser to Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu. However, Mali did not term it as a “resignation”. In a statement, Mali said, “I humbly submit that I withdraw my consent given for tendering suggestions to Navjot Singh Sidhu.” In another Facebook post, he claimed that the question of his resignation does not arise as he never accepted the post. “Neither accepted any post, nor resigned from any post,” Mali said in a post in Punjabi. AICC general secretary Harish Rawat, who is in charge of Punjab affairs, had also said that the two advisers need to go.