Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said he will not meet Congress’ state President Navjot Singh Sidhu till the latter apologises, amid infighting within the party.
The Congress on Sunday appointed Sidhu as the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief.
The Punjab unit of the Congress was thrown into a crisis after a rift emerged between Singh and his former Cabinet colleague Sidhu, who has reportedly been demanding a more prominent role in the party. The cricketer-turned-politician had resigned from the Punjab Cabinet after he was divested of the local bodies portfolio in 2019.
Singh and Sidhu have publicly criticised each other for months. Other party leaders have also revolted against the chief minister.
On Tuesday night, the Punjab chief minister’s media strategist Raveen Thukral dismissed reports about Sidhu seeking an appointment to meet Singh as “completely false”.
“No time has been sought whatsoever,” Thukral tweeted. “No change in stance.... Chief Minister won’t meet Navjot Singh Sidhu till [the] latter publicly apologises for his personally derogatory social media attacks against him.”
Meanwhile, Sidhu was welcomed on his visit to Amritsar after being elevated to the post of the Congress unit chief. But Singh’s loyalists reportedly stayed away from the affair, according to The Tribune.
Ahead of Sidhu’s elevation, at least 10 Congress MLAs had come out in support of Singh, urging the high command “not to let him down”. They said that the chief minister stood as a “tall leader amongst the Sikhs” because of his principled stand during testing times.
The MLAs also reiterated Singh’s demand seeking a public apology from Sidhu for his tweets against him. They said it would allow the party and government to function in tandem.
Meanwhile, Sidhu has been criticising the chief minister about the 2015 sacrilege case – when Sikh religious text Guru Granth Sahib was desecrated at Bargari in Faridkot – and the alleged delay by Singh’s government to bring perpetrators to justice. He has also spoken out against the liquor, sand and transport mafias operating in Punjab.
The cricketer-turned-politician had also dismissed allegations that he was damaging the image of the Congress in one of the few states where it is in power.
Sidhu had also hit out at his own party for the electricity crisis in the state. The Punjab government has been facing criticism for power shortages in the state.
The Congress had formed a three-member committee to resolve the crisis in Punjab.
On July 6, Singh had met Sonia Gandhi amid the infighting in the Punjab Congress. He had then said that he would accept the decision of the Gandhis.
In June, Sidhu had met Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in Delhi.