With Sidhu’s shock resignation and a relatively light weight as chief minister in Punjab, the politics in Punjab has turned upside down. Only the Akali Dal and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal would be watching the plight of the Congress with glee as both of the parties have shown aggressive stances in Punjab politics. Akali and BJP combine was trounced by the Congress in 2017 and they will make a whole hearted attempt to grab power when assembly polls are held in early 2022. By all accounts, the run-up promises to be exciting.
Barely a week ago Charanjit Singh Channi, a Dalit face and minister in the outgoing cabinet of Captain Amarinder Singh was picked up by the Congress ahead of the assembly polls, had taken oath as the new Chief Minister of Punjab, kindling hope of a united fight by the Congress in the coming assembly polls.
It came as a shock and surprise to the Congress leadership when cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, dropped the bombshell of resigning as state chief of Punjab Congress, on Tuesday.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had met Sidhu earlier and it was the green signal from the party high command that led to the resignation of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh who had been heading the party government in Punjab since 2017. It was clear that Sidhu was the one who was calling the shots in fast moving political developments in Punjab and his blessings were with Channi who was chosen as the new Chief Minister, replacing the veteran Captain Amarinder Singh.
The big question in political circles is then what went wrong which led to the sudden resignation of Sidhu? If indications emanating from party sources are to be believed Sidhu was unhappy with the choice of a few ministers in the new state cabinet as well as appointments of a few high officials. His cryptic resignation letter to Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi also refers to “compromise” and “collapse of a man’s character.”
Captain Amarinder Singh who landed in New Delhi on Tuesday evening termed Sidhu as an “unstable” person. He had earlier dubbed Sidhu as “anti-national” and vowed to see that Sidhu never becomes chief minister of Punjab. Captain Amarinder Singh said that he would not have any political meetings in the Capital. His sentiment was also echoed by statements of Akali Dal leader Maninderjit Singh Sirsa who described Sidhu as a “human bomb”
Sidhu earlier served as a minister in Captain Amarinder Singh’s cabinet and quit. He was given the charge of the Punjab unit of Congress in July and his running battle with the chief minister saw the heavyweight being replaced by Channi who may be a Dalit face but considered a super light weight in comparison to the Captain.