All India Congress Committee’s Punjab in-charge Asha Kumari on Tuesday sought a report from the party’s state unit over the face-off between Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu, as more party leaders backed the Chief Minister.
Mr Sidhu is under fire from his own party leaders after he questioned during electioneering in Bathinda why no FIR was registered against the Badals, who headed the previous state government, for the desecration of religious texts in 2015.
“We seek a report on every event and in this issue too a report has been sought from the PCC (state Congress committee),” Ms Kumari told Press Trust of India news agency over the phone.
She said state party chief Sunil Jakhar, who is seeking re-election from Gurdaspur, will give the report once he is free from the election process after the declaration of the results.
Amarinder Singh on Sunday had accused Mr Sidhu of “damaging” the Congress in the state and suggested that he wanted to be the chief minister himself.
Meanwhile, more Congress leaders came out in support of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
“Amarinder Singh is an undisputed leader of Punjab. There are many facets to his personality,” said former Union Minister and Congress leader Manish Tewari.
Mr Tewari praised Amarinder Singh as a “protector of Punjab’s waters”, a writer, an able administrator who has a mass appeal.
“People need to learn and grow,” he added, in a veiled attack at Mr Sidhu.
He said nothing could be more laughable if anyone compared himself to “Captain Sahib”.
Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa too hit out at Local Bodies Minister Sidhu, saying, “Making such a statement during elections meant directly helping the Badals.”
Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said Mr Sidhu should know that it was Amarinder Singh who fought against the Badals and ensured the Congress victory in the 2017 assembly polls.
“In the 2017 assembly polls, the Congress came to power in Punjab with an overwhelming majority as people voted in Amarinder Singh’s name. The party high command is with the chief minister. Our party has never tolerated indiscipline,” Mr Randhawa said.
He added that Mr Sidhu should know that the state government had set up a special investigation team (SIT) over the desecration issue.
“Does Navjot Singh Sidhu not know that action is being taken and some people have already been arrested. Is he ignorant of these facts,” he said.
Mr Randhawa alleged that when Mr Sidhu’s wife Navjot Kaur was a BJP MLA, she never spoke a word on the issue.
Union Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri, who is BJP’s Lok Sabha candidate from Amritsar, also took a jibe at the Congress, saying, “all along the campaign, one could sense unease in their ranks.”
“Now the cat is out of the bag,” he tweeted, adding that Mr Sidhu was under attack from his own cabinet colleagues.
Punjab minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot had Monday asked Navjot Singh Sidhu to resign from the state cabinet if he could not work with Amarinder Singh.
The differences between the chief minister and Mr Sidhu had come to the fore in August last year when Amarinder Singh advised Mr Sidhu against attending to the swearing-in ceremony of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The relations strained further when Mr Sidhu said his “captain” is Congress president Rahul Gandhi, suggesting that he didn’t regard Captain Amarinder Singh as his leader.
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