Sidhu’s latest round of tweets is being seen in political circles as an indication of his desire to part company with the Congress.

 

New Delhi: Continuing his war of words while attacking the Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, dissident leader Navjot Singh Sidhu put out multiple tweets aimed at exposing the failure of the Punjab government in bringing to book culprits of the sacrilege incidents of 2015. The former cricketer kept the sacrilege issue alive by declaring that there was no point in criticising the Punjab and Haryana High Court verdict when the fault lies with executive action.

“Big Boast, Small Roast, Big Outcry No Outcome”, he stated while demanding that the Badals should be excommunicated for their role in Bargari and Kotkapura episodes, and reminded the CM of his promise to book the culprits in 2016, a promise that had not been kept till date.

Sidhu’s latest round of tweets is being seen in political circles as an indication of his desire to part company with the Congress, since the high command has not been able to either reinstate him, nor rehabilitate him, following the strong stand taken by the Chief Minister.

Harish Rawat, AICC general secretary in-charge of Punjab, is understood to have sent a mail to interim Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, drawing her attention to the infighting in the state unit. Rawat, who is recovering in Uttarakhand from Covid, has informed Sonia Gandhi about possible repercussions of this confrontation between two very stubborn personalities.

The Captain in his no-nonsense approach has already dared Sidhu to contest against him from Patiala, making it clear that the dissident leader had no place in the Congress, and if the central leadership tried to impose its will, it shall not be possible to yield to any kind of pressure.

In this Captain versus Sidhu stand-off, it is the Congress that would lose its primary position, with worried MLAs reacting differently to the situation and talking in different voices to the leadership in Chandigarh and New Delhi. The fallout of the confrontation is that it would now increasingly become difficult for the high command to restore Sidhu’s position in the party unless the unpredictable cricketer tones down his aggression and falls in line, something, he is unlikely to do.

Being a master of strategy, the Captain would strike once the Assembly poll outcome is known on Sunday, but it is a matter of speculation whether he would be able to get Sidhu expelled from the party with the high command caught in two minds. On Sidhu’s part, he has given an impression to the central leadership that Captain was fast losing popularity amongst the masses, since he has not been able to keep his pre-2017 promises of dealing with the Badals and the drug mafia, and has been inaccessible to the party leaders.

On his part, the Chief Minister has been meeting small groups of MLAs to re-assure them that all pending issues would be sorted out and it was imperative for everyone to remain together to fight the Akalis and the AAP in next year’s elections.

Meanwhile, Sidhu, who is determined to keep the sacrilege matter burning, is being actively wooed by the Aam Aadmi Party through a powerful lobby, even though he seems inclined, along with former hockey captain, Pargat Singh and some others, to form his own regional party. He realizes that he would have little future in the Congress with the Captain in full control of things and if he has to carve out a place for himself, it shall be outside the fold of the grand old party.

Even Sidhu’s worst critics admit that he would be the “X” factor in the 2022 polls but want him to be out of the Congress since, if he continues his allegiance with the Gandhis, he would emerge as the natural successor to the Captain at some point of time.

It is more than obvious that the main poll planks of Punjab would be both sacrilege and the farmers’ agitation. It would not be beyond the Captain, who with his tremendous administrative ability, is still capable of turning things around, to his decisive advantage.

The buck in Punjab stops with the Chief Minister.