Congress scripted its own defeat in Punjab, says senior party leader in apparent jibe at Sidhu

Balbir Sidhu said the way the Punjab Congress chief and the chief minister indulged in open war of words, putting the party in a state of 'civil war', left the field wide open for the opposition.
Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu (File | PTI)
Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu (File | PTI)

CHANDIGARH: Former Punjab minister and senior Congress leader Balbir Singh Sidhu on Sunday said that the Congress leadership scripted its own defeat by giving power to turncoats and opportunists who were alien to the Congress, its history and culture.

Reacting to the party's drubbing in the Punjab assembly polls, Sidhu said, "The decline of the party's prospects started the day Sunil Jakhar, a dyed-in-wool Congressman, was replaced by an outsider Navjot Singh Sidhu, who had joined the Congress just four years ago."

Asserting that the Congress "committed one blunder after another", Balbir Sidhu said removing Amarinder Singh as the chief minister proved to be the last straw that broke the camel's back which eventually led to the "complete collapse" of the party and the government.

Amarinder Singh was unseated from the chief minister's post last year following a bitter feud between him and Navjot Singh Sidhu.

In a statement here, the former health minister said the party's third mistake was refusing to appoint Sunil Jakhar as the chief minister just because he was a Hindu, despite the support of an overwhelming majority of the party MLAs and the secular character and culture of the Congress.

"If the Congress had believed in politics of religion, Giani Zail Singh wouldn't be the president, Dr Manmohan Singh wouldn't be the prime minister and Buta Singh wouldn't be the home minister," he said.

"All this was followed by the appointment of Charanjit Singh Channi, who again was not a real Congressman, as he had tried his luck with the Shiromani Akali Dal and the People's Party of Punjab before joining the Congress. The Congress party and the government was handed over to rank outsiders," Balbir Sidhu asserted.

He said the way the party arbitrarily denied tickets to senior and veteran leaders like Amrik Singh Dhillon, Jagmohan Singh Kang, Ajaib Singh Bhatti and Kewal Singh Dhillon was yet another fatal mistake by the Congress leadership.

"It was strange and surprising that the party looked like it was in a race with itself in repeating one blunder after another to cause its own doom," he said.

The three-time former MLA from Mohali pointed out that just before the appointment of Navjot Singh Sidhu as the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president, everyone was of the unanimous view that the Congress will repeat itself in 2022.

"But the countdown for doom started the day Navjot Sidhu took over as the PCC president", he said, adding that the party made no efforts to reign him in.

Balbir Sidhu said the way the Punjab Congress chief and the chief minister indulged in open war of words, putting the party in a state of "civil war", left the field wide open for the opposition.

"People got fed up with this civil war and they decided to teach us a lesson," he said.

Besides, Balbir Sidhu said, "The language used by Navjot Sidhu and Channi during the campaign antagonised a large section of the electorate."

While Navjot Sidhu allegedly addressed former minister Anil Joshi as a "kaala Brahmin", Channi allegedly used derogatory language against the migrant population.

This antagonised certain communities and they voted against the Congress not only in Punjab, but also in Uttar Pradesh, he said.

The former minister said instead of owning up responsibility, those responsible were "shamelessly" glorifying themselves as if they had won "Param Vir Chakra".

He said those responsible for the debacle must be made accountable, lest the Congress got "destroyed beyond redemption".

The Aam Aadmi Party romped home with 92 of the 117 assembly seats by decimating the Congress and the SAD-BSP combine.

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