Sonia Gandhi meets Navjot Singh Sidhu in Delhi, likely to name him Punjab Congress chief

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and party in-charge of Punjab affairs, Harish Rawat also attended the meeting with Sidhu, sources said.
Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu leaves after meeting party President Sonia Gandhi, in New Delhi. (Photo | Shekhar Yadav, EPS)
Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu leaves after meeting party President Sonia Gandhi, in New Delhi. (Photo | Shekhar Yadav, EPS)

NEW DELHI: Amid continued infighting in the Punjab Congress, former minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Friday met party chief Sonia Gandhi at her residence here and in a bid to bring about a truce formula over the state unit revamp.

AICC general secretary in-charge for Punjab affairs of the party Harish Rawat, who was present at the meeting along with Rahul Gandhi, will be meeting Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday in Chandigarh to bring him on board over the peace formula.

Sources say that report of Sidhu's elevation has irked Amarinder Singh and he has shot off a letter to Sonia Gandhi, expressing strong resentment over the developments and reports of his elevation.

The chief minister has reportedly told the leadership that the developments will have an adverse impact on the Congress's prospects, as the party stands confused and is at the crossroads, the sources add.

The meeting between Sidhu and Sonia Gandhi comes ahead of the party's Punjab unit revamp and amid reports that Sidhu may get a key role in the organisation.

After the meeting, Rawat said Sonia Gandhi is yet to take a final decision on the issue and he will share it soon after it is done.

Asked whether a decision has been made to appoint Sidhu as Punjab Congress chief, Rawat said, "Who says this?"

"I came here to submit my note on Punjab to the Congress chief and as soon as a decision is taken by the Congress president, I will come and share it with you," Rawat said.

"Please read my statement very carefully and try and understand the words and their meaning," he also said when asked about his earlier comments on Sidhu that indicate him getting a bigger role.

On Thursday when he was asked if Sidhu was being made the PCC chief, Rawat had said, "A formula is being worked out around that".

Rawat said the media interprets news as it wants but the Congress normally does not react until it is essential.

Asked what transpired at the meeting, he said, he cannot divulge details and whatever a state leader says to the Congress president is between them.

Sidhu left Sonia Gandhi's 10, Janpath residence without talking to the media.

According to sources, the Punjab chief minister has expressed resentment over Sidhu being given a key role.

AICC general secretary Rawat had, however, denied such reports.

The sources say that reports of Sidhu's supporters celebrating in advance have also irked Amarinder Singh.

Rawat had maintained that the central leadership was working out a peace formula where both Amarinder Singh and Sidhu could work together to help the party win in the Punjab Assembly polls next year.

Both the leaders are at loggerheads with each other and have made public statements against each other.

Both Singh and Sidhu have held parallel meetings in Chandigarh with their loyalists.

While the chief minister has met some party MPs, MLAs and ministers, Sidhu is learnt to have met Punjab ministers Sukhjinder Randhawa and Tript Rajinder Bajwa, and some MLAs close to him at Randhawa's residence.

Meanwhile, amid reports of Sidhu's elevation, party MP Manish Tewari batted for a Hindu face for the PCC chief's post while giving details of the composition of the state's population.

"Punjab is both progressive and secular but balancing social interest groups is key.

Equality is the foundation of social justice!" he said in the tweet, while giving details of Punjab's demography.

It mentioned that Sikhs constitute 57.75 per cent of the population, while Hindus and Dalits constitute 38.49 and 31.94 per cent respectively.

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