CHANDIGARH: After appointing Navjot Singh Sidhu as the president of Punjab Congress, the high command is likely to heed the advice of poll strategist Prashant Kishor and rejig party’s line-up of prospective MLAs, bringing in new faces and even shifting some from their present constituencies, for the next year’s Assembly election.
This rejig, at the expense of veterans, is purportedly aimed at neutralising the anti-incumbency factor in light of an internal survey, which indicated a dip in Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s popularity.
No sooner had the reports of the high command planning to deny tickets to around 30 sitting MLAs surfaced than several MLAs began questioning the rationale, claiming the internal survey was not a barometer of their popularity.
Meanwhile, Sidhu continued his outreach and obeisance drive, reaching the village of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh at Khatkar Kalan and launching his ‘fight for truth and rights’ (haq ate sach di ladai).
He was accompanied by working president Kuljit Nagra and six MLAs, besides the Punjab Youth Congress president.
Addressing a gathering of farmers at the memorial, Sidhu said: “I have come here to seek the directions from the land of the martyr. I wish all Punjabis take strength from Bhagat Singh and set out on a fight for truth and rights."
However, Sidhu received mixed response from the crowd, with some hailing and others deriding him.
While Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel congratulated Sidhu, Punjab minister and senior congress leader Brahm Mahindra was guarded in his response.
Though welcoming of Sidhu’s elevation, Mahindra ruled out a personal meeting with him until he resolved the issues with Amarinder Singh.
The suspense over a possible truce between Sidhu and Singh continues as there has been no reaction from the chief minister over the Amritsar East MLA’s elevation to the post of Punjab Congress chief.
Amarinder has neither greeted the new PCC president nor expressed any desire to meet him. However, Sidhu is into an outreach overdrive, meeting several ministers and legislators to mobilise support.