The ongoing political battle between Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his bête noir and former colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu reached a flashpoint on Tuesday when the CM took to a TV channel to dare Sidhu to contest from Patiala.
Amarinder, who has been keeping quiet in the face of a tirade launched by Sidhu against him for over a fortnight, finally broke his silence when he dared Sidhu to contest from Patiala, a pocket-borough of the CM.
To a question that the Sidhu had stepped up political activities in Patiala, Amarinder said, “He can come and contest from Patiala. He will also lose his deposit like Gen JJ Singh.”
He said Sidhu wanted to join some other party. “What else does it mean when he is attacking his own CM? It means he wants to join some other party. But BJP will not take him. He has left them after abusing them. Neither will SAD. He has limited choice to either stay in Congress or join AAP. “
Amarinder also went to the extent of saying that PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar was doing well as state chief of the party and why should he be removed to make room for Sidhu. He said while the decision of naming Sidhu as PPCC chief rested with the high command, if consulted he will oppose it. He said Sidhu has been in the party for only four and half years. On the issue of Sidhu being considered for Deputy CM’s post, Amarinder said there were many ministers who had served the party since their youth Congress days. Why should they not be considered.
A few minutes after Amarinder’s interview, Sidhu tweeted: “Efforts to derail Punjab’s conscience will fail … My Soul is Punjab and Punjab’s Soul is Guru Granth Sahib Ji … Our fight is for Justice & punishing the guilty, an assembly seat is not even worth discussion in the same breath!!(sic)”
Amarinder represents Patiala (Urban) Assembly segment, a part of his home district. Sidhu also belongs to Patiala and has a family house there. He had shifted base when BJP fielded him from Amritsar in Lok Sabha elections. That time Sidhu had made a promise to the people of Amritsar that he would not leave the holy city ever. However, of late Sidhu has concentrated his activities in Patiala, with his wife even setting up an office in the district. Sidhu has already addressed two press conferences in Patiala.
Amarinder’s challenge to Sidhu came a day after a stormy meeting of Congress on the issue of sacrilege. The CM Is learnt to have told the ministers that none of them had hit back at Sidhu, who was launching an attack after attack on the government. To this, a Cabinet minister is learnt to have stated that nobody was hitting back at him as the high command was sending signals that they liked him a lot.
With the duo coming out in open, it is clear that the attempts of party high command for a rapprochement between the two have not succeeded. Amarinder has come out openly against Sidhu after a long time.Last time he had hit out at Sidhu when he had changed his department after citing incompetence. After that he has been very diplomatic in his replies about Sidhu.