Chandigarh: All is still not well in the Punjab Congress. Days after a truce had been reached between state unit chief Navjot Singh Sidhu and its new Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, Sidhu is back to publicly expressing his displeasure with the working of the government.
In a fresh tweet Sunday, Sidhu re-opened the discussion on the appointment of the advocate general (AG) and the director general of police (DGP), the twin issues which seemed to have been resolved following the Sidhu-Channi meeting Thursday.
Sidhu’s move comes both as a surprise and embarrassment to the party high command as matters between Sidhu and the current Congress government in Punjab are now back to square one.
Last Tuesday, Sidhu had tweeted his resignation from the post of the president of the state Congress over the appointment of the AG APS Deol and DGP Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota by the Channi government.
— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) September 28, 2021
Sidhu believed that since Deol had been advocate for former DGP Punjab Sumedh Singh Saini he was unsuitable for defending the Punjab government in the cases of police firing on Sikh protesters in which Saini was one of the accused. During the Akali regime in 2015, police had fired on protesters demanding justice in the cases of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib. Saini was the DGP then.
Similarly, Sidhu considers Sahota unsuitable for the DGP’s post as he headed a special investigation team (SIT) in 2015 that had probed the sacrilege cases and allegedly implicated two young Sikh youth who were later let off for lack of evidence.
Following the terms of the truce reached during the Sidhu-Channi Thursday meeting and factoring in Sidhu’s objections, the government had that very night sent a list of 10 senior-most IPS officers to the UPSC for the selection of a new DGP. Regarding the AG, Sidhu was told that Deol’s appointment had the stamp of the party high command and cannot be revoked at the level of the state leadership.
To assuage Sidhu, Friday the government appointed advocate Rajvinder Singh Bains as special prosecutor to defend the police firing cases effectively taking these out of the jurisdiction of the AG office.
But Sidhu continued to be dissatisfied. He tweeted Sunday: “Demand for Justice in Sacrilege cases and for arrest of main culprits behind the drug trade brought our Govt in 2017 & Due to his failure, People removed the last CM. Now, AG / DG appointments rub salt on wounds of victims, they must be replaced or we will have No face !!”
Demand for Justice in Sacrilege cases and for arrest of main culprits behind the drug trade brought our Govt in 2017 & Due to his failure, People removed the last CM. Now, AG / DG appointments rub salt on wounds of victims, they must be replaced or we will have No face !! pic.twitter.com/Bdczzv2vgz
— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) October 3, 2021
When asked about Sidhu reopening the AG and DGP issue, Chief Minister Channi was at pains to explain the government’s position. “Regarding the appointment of the DGP, it was made clear to Sidhu that a panel of ten officers had been sent to UPSC which will send back names of three suitable candidates. After these three names are received, we will discuss with Sidhu and other MLAs and then choose one person unanimously,” said the CM talking to mediapersons Sunday.
The CM added that there was a coordination committee in place to sort out all contentious issues. When asked about Sidhu’s fresh tweets showing that he was still harbouring resentment the CM said he cannot comment (on Sidhu’s behalf) and the question should be put to Sidhu.
Channi however did not talk about the AG’s appointment.
Sidhu’s latest set of tweets has triggered fresh speculation about whether he has withdrawn his resignation — or not. It was believed that since his camp had claimed victory following the Sidhu-Channi meeting, he would be withdrawing his resignation, but Saturday’s cryptic message on Twitter has raised fresh doubts:
“Will uphold principles of Gandhi Ji & Shastri Ji … Post or No Post will stand by @RahulGandhi & @priyankagandhi ! Let all negative forces try to defeat me, but with every ounce of positive energy will make Punjab win, Punjabiyat (Universal Brotherhood) win & every punjabi win !!” https://t.co/6r4pYte06E
Will uphold principles of Gandhi Ji & Shastri Ji … Post or No Post will stand by @RahulGandhi & @priyankagandhi ! Let all negative forces try to defeat me, but with every ounce of positive energy will make Punjab win, Punjabiyat (Universal Brotherhood) win & every punjabi win !! pic.twitter.com/6r4pYte06E
— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) October 2, 2021
Senior Congress leaders believe it is “high time” that Sidhu is shown the door as he is continuing with his “singular-agenda” tirade. “All this talk about justice for sacrilege cases is humbug. Sidhu only wants to have his own DGP and his own AG. That is all. He has been pushing the names of two persons since the day new leadership took over the government, but those names were not agreed on so he continues to sulk,” said a senior Congress leader on condition of anonymity.
Sources in the Sidhu camp however point out that “very soon” the high command will see reason in his insistence on changing the DGP and the AG.
“Sidhu is a very emotional person and feels strongly about the sacrilege cases. He has full faith that the party high command leaders will see why he is objecting to the choices made by the government. They will realise that these appointments have been carelessly made without much thought having gone into the decisions. You will soon see a change,” said Sidhu’s close associate hinting at the possibility of a change in AG and DGP.
(Edited by Paramita Ghosh)