(left) Capt Amarinder Singh meeting Amit Shah, (above) Charanjit Singh Channi and (below) Navjot Singh Sidhu
Struggling to keep its house in order in Punjab, the Congress party was delivered yet another blow as Captain Amarinder Singh met Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday. The meeting has further fueled speculation that the BJP might extend an olive branch to the former Punjab chief minister.
In a tweet, Captain Amarinder Singh’s aide Raveen Thukral said the veteran Congressman urged Union minister Amit Shah to take urgent measures to end the 10-month deadlock between the central government and farmers protesting against the three farm laws.
Back in Punjab, CM Charanjit Singh Channi held a meeting of his cabinet a day after one minister and at least three functionaries resigned from their posts “in solidarity” with Navjot Singh Sidhu.
The chief minister once again asked the state police department to reduce the number of security personnel part of his detail, in a bid to curb ‘VVIP culture’. He also asked local government departments to check corruption and unplanned construction. A decision was also taken to waive the power bills of those who have an electricity connection of up to 2 kW.
Apart from Punjab, trouble also mounted for the Congress party in New Delhi where MLAs loyal to Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel demanded a meeting with the party high command amid the ongoing tussle between him and state health minister TS Singh Deo.
Congress Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal, who is part of the party’s G23 faction, also held a press conference where he criticised the party leadership. Ghulam Nabi Azad, also a part of the G23, wrote to Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi urging her to convene an urgent session of the Congress Working Committee (CWC).
However, the crisis erupting in Punjab Congress continued to dominate headlines throughout the day.
Top Developments in Punjab Politics | 5 points
1. Navjot Singh Sidhu, who resigned as president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), posted a video message on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon. In the video, Sidhu said he will “keep fighting for the truth” till his last breath. He also voiced his opposition to appointments of “tainted” individuals made by Punjab CM Channi, including that of the state’s new Advocate General.
— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) September 29, 2021
2. Sources close to Navjot Singh Sidhu told India Today that the cricketer-turned-politician has said that he will reconsider his resignation if a few conditions are met. These include the removal of Rana Gurjit Singh from CM Channi’s cabinet and the removal of APS Deol as Advocate General and IPS Sahota as DGP of Punjab.
3. Asked to comment on Sidhu’s video message, Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi told reporters that he has “no ego” and is willing to sit down and discuss all issues with the leaders of his party. “I have spoken to Sidhu saheb over the telephone today. The party is supreme and the government accepts the party’s ideology and follows that. If you [Sidhu] feel there is anything wrong, you can point it out,” the chief minister said.
Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi holding a cabinet meeting on Wednesday | PTI
4. Captain Amarinder Singh held an hour-long discussion with Union Home Minister Amit Shah at 6A, Krishna Menon Marg, the latter’s official residence. While Singh maintained that the purpose of his visit was to appeal to the central government to withdraw the farm laws, there is speculation that the BJP might extend support to the veteran politician with the aim of expanding its footprint in Punjab.
Capt Amarinder Singh with Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi on Wednesday | PTI
5. Delhi CM and national convener of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Arvind Kejriwal, held public meetings in Ludhiana on Wednesday. During one such meeting, he said that governance in Punjab had been reduced to a “tamasha” and appealed to CM Channi to remove “tainted” ministers from his cabinet without any delay. “A dirty fight for power is going on. People are not able to understand whom they should approach for their problems,” Kejriwal said.