Navjot Sidhu Elevated As Punjab Congress President Signals, Emerges As Handpicked Choice Of High Command To Replace Amarinder Singh As CM

·3-min read

The central leadership of Congress on Sunday (Jul 18) appointed test cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu as the next president of Punjab state unit.

The rift between CM Amarinder Singh and Sidhu, festering since the Congress ousted the Akali Dal-BJP government in the 2017 Punjab election, could potentially damage the reelection prospects of the party in the forthcoming assembly poll.

Recent Congress history reveals that state unit presidents have gone on to become CMs.

The central leadership of Congress on Sunday (Jul 18) appointed test cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu as the next president of Punjab state unit.

Sidhu's elevation was announced by the high command ignoring the objections raised by State chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh and his loyalists.

Twice elected to Lok Sabha from Amritsar constituency as BJP candidate, Sidhu switched allegiance to Congress in the run up to the 2017 state assembly elections. He is currently a member of Punjab assembly from Amritsar East. SIdhu will replace Sunil Jakhar as the president of the state unit.

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In what is seen by political observers as an attempt to retain its fragile electoral coalition, the party also named four working presidents. Urmar MLA Sangat Singh Gilzian, Jandiala MLA Sukhwinder Singh Danny, Fatehgarh Sahib MLA Kuljit Singh Nagra and senior party functionary Pawan Goel from Jaito in Faridkot were appointed as working presidents.

The rift between Amarinder Singh and Sidhu, festering since the Congress ousted the Akali Dal-BJP government in the 2017 Punjab election, could potentially damage the reelection prospects of the party in the forthcoming assembly poll.

Amid ongoing tussle with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Sidhu, who was part of Punjab cabinet, quit his ministerial position in July 2019.

In a cabinet reshuffle exercise that preceded his exit, Amarinder Singh divested Sidhu of the Local Bodies portfolio and allocated him the Power and New and Renewable Energy Sources portfolios.

However, Sidhu, instead of taking charge of his new assignment, approached party’s Central leadership to express his displeasure and appraised the “high command’’ of being singled out “unfairly’’ in the Cabinet rejig on the pretext of party’s “poor performance” in the urban areas of the State in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

In the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha election, Sidhu’s wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu accusing Amarinder Singh of blocking her Lok Sabha ticket from Chandigarh. Amarinder Singh also accused Sidhu of poor ministerial performance, which he attributed to Congress’s “poor performance” in urban areas in the general election.

Recent Congress history reveals that state unit presidents have gone on to become CMs. Amarinder Singh himself was Punjab unit chief ahead of becoming CM in 2017. He had forced the Congress High Command to appoint him as state unit chief eplacing his party rival Partap Singh Bajwa

In 2019, Kamal Nath and Bhupesh Baghel were the PCC Chiefs in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh when the states went to polls and later became CMs when the party won. Kamal Nath was also made PCC Chief just before the elections replacing Arun Yadav.

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