NEW DELHI/CHANDIGARH: Much to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s displeasure, arch rival Navjot Singh Sidhu is expected to be named the new state Congress chief with AICC general secretary and troubleshooter Harish Rawat, after meeting Amarinder on Saturday, saying the CM would accept any decision taken by the party high command. But Amarinder’s ostensible climbdown from Friday, when he wrote to Sonia and strongly opposed Sidhu’s likely appointment, came only after the CM extracted his pound of flesh, according to those privy to the developments.
Sources said the party will have two or three working presidents under Sidhu but the CM will have a say in their appointments, given a free hand in a cabinet reshuffle and the government’s running and he will also play a key role in the campaign committees for the assembly elections. The working presidents are likely to be from Malwa, Magha and Doaba regions of the state.
Amarinder is also understood to have insisted that he would not meet Sidhu until he publicly apologises for his uncharitable comments on social media against the CM and criticism of the state government.In a day of hectic meetings, Rawat flew to assuage Amarinder in Chandigarh. After the meeting, Amarinder’s media adviser Raveen Thukral tweeted on the CM’s behalf:“Had a fruitful meeting with @harishrawatcmuk. Reiterated that any decision of @INCIndia President will be acceptable to all. Raised certain issues which he said he’ll take up with @INCIndia president.”Rawat on his part said “the CM repeated what he said earlier that Sonia’s decision regarding the PCC president would be acceptable to him.”
Even while Rawat was buying peace with Amarinder, Sidhu started his intra-party outreach meetings, an indication that he will soon be elevated. He called on incumbent Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar, former party chiefs, cabinet ministers and MLAs. Jakhar later said the party had to put a united face for the 2022 Assembly elections.