Fault lines widen within Punjab Congress

Amarinder Singh, Navjot Singh Sidhu meet supporters separately.

The fault lines within the Punjab Congress were exposed on Thursday with Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and former Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu holding separate meetings with their supporters after reports emerged that Mr. Sidhu could be the next Punjab Congress chief.

The party is yet to officially announce its formula to broker peace between the Chief Minister and Mr. Sidhu, but the All India Congress Committee in-charge for Punjab, Harish Rawat, told a news channel that a formula had been worked out around Mr. Sidhu as the new Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief, while Capt. Singh would continue to be the Chief Minister and would lead the party into elections. Appointing two working presidents — one from the Hindu community and another from the Dalit community — is also supposed to be part of the truce.

But as the formula surfaced in the public domain, the Chief Minister met his supporters even as his camp made it clear that Capt. Singh continued to oppose the idea of two Jat Sikhs (Mr. Sidhu and himself) leading both the government and the party.

The Chief Minister is said to have made this clear to the high command even though last week, after meeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi, he had said he “would implement whatever decision she takes”.

Separately, Mr. Sidhu is learnt to have met the MLAs who are backing him in his battle with the Chief Minister.

Rawat clarifies

Mr. Rawat called on Ms. Gandhi on Thursday evening. Though he said the meeting was on Uttarakhand, he clarified his “earlier” statement about Mr. Sidhu being the PCC chief.

“I never said so [on Mr. Sidhu as PCC chief]. To a specific question on this, I said the solution would be something around it,” Mr. Rawat told presspersons after meeting Ms. Gandhi.

Once the party puts a lid to its Punjab feud, it would focus on the election-bound States of Gujarat and Uttarakhand.

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