Navjot Singh Sidhu was on Sunday appointed as the President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee by Sonia Gandhi, despite a major opposition by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. Gandhi also appointed four working presidents to assist Sidhu in the run-up to the next assembly elections.The appointments came after days of internal squabbling and public bickering that virtually divided the state unit between two factions owing allegiance to Singh and Sidhu.
Sangat Singh Gilzian, Sukhwinder Singh Danny, Pawan Goel and Kuljit Singh Nagra were made the working presidents of the state unit.
“Congress President has appointed Navjot Singh Sidhu as the President of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee with immediate effect. Congress President has also appointed following persons as working presidents of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee: Sangat Singh Gilzian, Sukhwinder Singh Danny, Pawan Goel, Kuljit Singh Nagra,” an official release read.
“The party appreciates the contributions of outgoing PCC president Sunil Jakhar,”the statement said.
Nagra, who was in-charge of party affairs in Sikkim, Nagaland and Tripura, has been relieved of his present responsibilities.
Earlier in the day, at least 11 MLAs on Sunday came out in support of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh whom they called the “tallest leader of masses” and appealed to the party high command not to let him down. Meanwhile, cricketer-turned-politician Sidhu had also stepped up his efforts and reached out to more party leaders and legislators for their support.
There have been a series of meetings in Chandigarh and elsewhere in Punjab, held by Singh and Sidhu separately, to work out last minute strategies ahead of the party revamp.
PARTY LEADERSHIP PUTS ITS WEIGHT BEHIND SIDHU
With the decision, the party leadership has clearly signalled to put its weight behind Sidhu while ignoring Amarinder Singh’s opposition. The leadership feels Sidhu can lead the party’s campaign with fresh energy and enthusiasm and help ensure its victory in the upcoming assembly polls slated for early next year.
Sidhu’s ability to pull crowds and launch a vigorous campaign has worked in his favour as the party feels that infusing fresh energy in the party ranks is required at a time slackness has set in after four-and-half years in power.
The support of Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has also helped in Sidhu clinching the post despite strong resistance.
The cricketer-turned-politician now faces the challenge of uniting the party and bringing cohesion in its ranks, besides winning the trust of the old guard and veterans.
Chief Minister Singh is learnt to have told Sonia Gandhi that he will not meet Sidhu till he publicly apologises for his attacks on him in the recent past.
Calls are being made by party veterans to unite the party ahead of the assembly polls, else the AAP and the Akali Dal-BSP combine could upstage it. (With PTI inputs)