Sidhu, the recently nominated Punjab unit president, has issued a challenge to the Congress high command, saying that unless he is given the power to make judgments, he will respond with a devastating response. Sidhu stated that he did not want to be a ‘show horse.’
He made the comments during a meeting with industrialists and traders in Amritsar on Thursday, amid the ongoing feud with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh ahead of the assembly polls.
After his inflammatory remarks on the Kashmir issue, Sidhu’s adviser Malvinder Singh Mali resigned on Friday as a result of the dispute.
The party leadership chose the cricketer-turned-politician as Punjab Congress chief a few weeks ago, over objections from Amarinder Singh. However, the two camps in the state Congress have failed to reach an agreement.
Sidhu told a trade and industrial organization that he will work to keep the Congress in power in Punjab for the next 20 years. “Even if you don’t let me make the decisions,” Sidhu remarked in Punjabi, using the phrase “itt naal itt bhi khadkavunga.”
He went on to say that being a show horse was pointless (“darshani ghoda”).
Harish Rawat, the All India Congress Committee’s (AICC) Punjab affairs in-charge, appeared to downplay Sidhu’s statements.
In Delhi, he stated that state presidents are free to make judgments within the confines of the party’s constitution and position. “I will see the context in which Navjot Singh Sidhu made these remarks. Mr Sidhu is the respected chief of the Punjab unit. Who else has the power to take decisions if not the state presidents?” When asked for comment, the AICC general secretary told reporters.
It’s unclear whether Sidhu’s outburst was in response to Rawat’s recent request that his two media advisers resign after making controversial comments about Kashmir and Pakistan that appeared to contradict India’s and the party’s official positions.
Rawat also stated to reporters in Uttarakhand on Thursday that he wants to quit his role as the party’s in-charge of affairs in Punjab in order to focus on his home state. He has already stated that the next polls will be held under Amarinder Singh’s leadership, an insult to the Sidhu camp.
In an apparent show of strength in support of the chief minister, a majority of Punjab Congress MLAs and eight MPs attended a luncheon in Chandigarh on Thursday.
Sidhu began his statement by saying that the people of Amritsar, where he previously served as an MP, are familiar with him. “Sidhu believes in hope and faith politics,” he stated.
“I’ve always worked to make a difference in people’s lives,” he continued.
Sidhu, who switched from the Congress to the BJP before the 2017 assembly elections, claimed that he has never compromised his beliefs for cheap personal gain.
When he was approached to run for the Kurukshetra seat, he said he turned down a cabinet position at the Centre. “I will die while serving the people of Amritsar,” he responded, putting his foot down.
Industrialists, not bureaucrats, he claimed, will drft Punjab’s industrial policy.
He argued that states can’t grow without a thriving industry, and he proposed a single-window system for launching new businesses and expanding current ones. “People in Punjab are currently disappointed by politicians’ bogus and hollow promises,” the Congress leader remarked.
He promised that Punjab’s ‘faulty’ power purchase agreements would be cancelled, and that home consumers would receive electricity at Rs 3 per unit.