New Delhi: In-fighting in the Punjab Congress continues, with former Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu remaining at odds with the party’s state leadership.
In a letter written to party president Sonia Gandhi last month, Congress in-charge for Punjab, Harish Chaudhary, sought disciplinary proceedings to be initiated against Sidhu and said the Congress leader could not be allowed to “portray himself (as being) above the party and set an example for others to breach discipline”.
In a letter dated 23 April, accessed by ThePrint, Chaudhary alleged that Sidhu was criticising the functioning of the previous Congress government in Punjab and calling it corrupt.
“Having been in-charge of the party’s affairs in Punjab from November until now, it has been my observation that Shri Sidhu continuously criticised the functioning of the Congress government, terming it corrupt and hand-in-glove with the Shiromani Akali Dal,” wrote Chaudhury.
He added: “As the party was fighting elections, it was inappropriate for Shri Sidhu to set such a precedent. In spite of my repeated advice to Shri Sidhu to avoid such activities, he continued to speak against the government relentlessly.”
Chaudhary’s letter follows a note sent by present Punjab Congress president Amrinder Singh Brar Raja Warring to Gandhi, detailing Sidhu’s recent activities.
Sidhu had been at the forefront of the factional war in the Congress’ Punjab unit ahead of the assembly elections which brought the Aam Aadmi Party to power in March, and removed the Congress government in the state.
The former Punjab Congress president had also lost his Amritsar East seat in the elections and resigned as state party head thereafter.
ThePrint reached Sidhu on Whatsapp for a comment on Chaudhury’s letter. This story will be updated once his response is received.
Sidhu’s actions ‘inexcusable’, says Chaudhury
With months to go for the assembly elections, Sidhu’s long and protracted spat with former Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had led to the latter’s resignation, first from the post of CM and then from the Congress, after the party high command — under the Gandhi family (Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka) — ‘chose’ Sidhu over Amarinder.
The choice was indicated by a photo tweeted by Sidhu of himself and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, after a meeting with her.
— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) June 30, 2021
While Sidhu was made Punjab Congress president, Charanjit Singh Channi was installed as CM for 111 days — becoming Punjab’s first Dalit CM in September.
However, soon differences started brewing between Sidhu and Channi too. The boiling dissent was temporarily put to rest by the Gandhis before the elections, by announcing Channi as the party’s CM face. But Channi lost both seats that he contested — Chamkaur Sahib and Bhadaur — even as the Congress failed to get majority in the elections.
In his letter to Sonia Gandhi, Chaudhary referred to recent instances of Sidhu skipping party meetings called by Warring. While the former Congress president attended to ceremony to celebrate Warring’s taking over as Punjab Congress president, Chaudhury has alleged that Sidhu’s actions at the event were “inexcusable”.
“Shri Sidhu simply met and wished the PCC (Pradesh Congress Committee) chief and hurriedly left the venue, whereas, the entire state leadership attended the function and presented a united face to the Congress party workers”, Chaudhary has claimed in the letter.
He has then requested the Congress president to seek an explanation from Sidhu as to “why disciplinary proceedings should not be initiated against him”.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)