Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu on Friday urged the party leadership to allow him freedom to take decisions and warned of a “befitting reply” if demand was not heard, news agency PTI reported.
His comments came hours after Malvinder Singh Mali quit his position as advisor to Sidhu following criticism of the party high command over his views on Article 370 and Kashmir, and a sketch of Indira Gandhi terming her a “tormentor”. As Mali refused to withdraw the social media posts, Sidhu was advised by Harish Rawat, the party’s Punjab in-charge, to sack Mali.
Rawat had said that if Sidhu did not sack such advisers, he would do so himself. Amarinder, too, had asked Mali to stick to advising Sidhu rather than speaking on issues of national interest. He also asked Sidhu to rein in his advisors.
Asked about Sidhu’s remarks, Rawat told reporters, “I will see the context in which Navjot Singh Sidhu has made these remarks. Mr Sidhu is the respected chief of the Punjab unit. Who will have the power to take decisions if not the state presidents.”
Rawat, however, said state presidents are free to take decisions within the party’s constitution and in accordance with its position.
Sidhu was appointed as the Punjab Congress chief last month amid a longstanding rift with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
Meanwhile, a full-blown crisis has hit the Punjab Congress, with over two dozen MLAs and ministers seeking removal of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh. Thirty-four Congress MLAs, of the party’s 80, had held a meeting along with other party leaders in Chandigarh Tuesday, following which at least four ministers claimed a demand had been raised to replace Singh, adding they had “lost confidence in him”.
However, amid the infighting in the party unit, a number of MLAs and eight MPs attended a dinner in Chandigarh on Thursday in a show of strength in support of Capt.
Opposition parties in Punjab, meanwhile, have grabbed the opportunity to point towards a constitutional and governance crisis developing in the state due to the infighting and demanded that either the chief minister should resign or he should seek a vote of confidence in the Vidhan Sabha.
Sidhu and Singh have been at loggerheads and have been making public statements against each other. Punjab is slated to go for assembly elections early next year.