Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and newly-appointed State Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu may not be on the same page, but they will share the same stage on Friday. Nearly three years after the differences between the two senior leaders came to fore, both will come together for Sidhu’s “coronation” ceremony at Punjab Congress Bhawan.
Along with Sidhu, who would take over the charge of Punjab Pradesh Congress committee (PPCC) president after his appointment on July 18, four working presidents — Kuljit Singh Nagra, Sangat Singh Gilzian, Sukhwinder Singh Danny, and Pawan Goel — would also take over the charge of their new assignment.
The CMs acceptance of invite came after Sidhu’s letter, and personal invitation signed by 58 legislators. This, followed by tea invite by the Chief Minister to all MLAs and MPs, signals thaw in the long-stretched cold relations between the Congress party’s two tall leaders.
Notably, Nagra and Gilzian, acting as Sidhu’s emissary, extended a formal invite to the Chief Minister at his farmhouse in Mohali’s Siswan for the installation ceremony. The invite was signed by total 58 legislators, including Sidhu and three rebels of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), who have shifted loyalties towards Congress. The ruling party, in all, has the support of 81 MLAs, including four AAP rebels. Congress has a total of 77 MLAs in the 117-member House.
After meeting Capt Amarinder, Nagra told the reporters that the Chief Minister will come to the event. “An invitation from the pardhan sahib (PPCC president), Ministers and MLAs has been given to the CM. He has accepted the invitation and will reach there to give his blessings,” Nagra said.
The development came days after the Chief Minister made it clear that Sidhu has to “publically apologise” before their meeting.
Sources informed The Pioneer that as a part of the truce plan, the Chief Minister invited the MLAs, MPs, and other leaders for tea at Punjab Bhavan and the rapprochement between the two will happen there in presence of Punjab party affairs in-charge Harish Rawat, who has already reached Chandigarh to attend Sidhu’s installation ceremony.
The Friday’s expected meeting between the Chief Minister and Sidhu would come four months after the two leaders joined each other for a tête-à-tea on March 17 to discuss his rehabilitation in the party and the Cabinet.
Confirming the development, Chief Minister’s media adviser Raveen Thukral also tweeted that Capt Amarinder has invited all Congress MLAs, MPs, and senior party functionaries for tea at 10 am on Friday. “They will all then go to Punjab Congress Bhawan together from there for the installation of the new PPCC (Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee) team,” the tweet read.
Capt Amarinder has strategically invited the party legislators and parliamentarians for tea before proceeding for the ceremony. The invite is likely to ensure that the party leaders do not accompany Sidhu to the venue directly, which could otherwise have been construed as an expression of support for the PPCC chief.
SIDHU’S PERSONAL INVITE TO CAPT
Along with the special invite, signed by 58 MLAs, Navjot Singh Sidhu had also sent a personal letter to “the eldest of Punjab Congress family” requesting Capt Amarinder to attend his installation ceremony and give his “blessings”.
“My resolve and commitment on Punjab’s issues and fulfilling high command’s pro-people 18-point agenda for the welfare of every Punjabi is well known to you and all. I am and will remain steadfast on the commitment with blessings of the Congress workers. I have no personal agenda, only a pro-people agenda. Thus, as the eldest of our Punjab Congress family I request you to please come and bless the new team,” wrote Sidhu in a letter to Capt Amarinder.
Capt Amarinder and Sidhu had been at loggerheads with each other for years now, disturbing the unity of the Congress party. Before the 2022 assembly elections in the state, the party took up the task of bridging the differences, and for the same came up with a three-member committee, which framed a formula. Giving Navjot Singh Sidhu the position of the PPCC president is seen as a part of the formula, though Captain Amarinder Singh had shown his disagreement to the same.