On a day 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab went to the polls, the simmering tension between Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu reached a flashpoint. Amarinder accused Sidhu of harming Congress with his actions, and other Cabinet Ministers threw their weight behind the Chief Minister.
This comes a day after Sidhu, while speaking on sacrilege cases, alleged a nexus between senior Congress leaders and the Badals.
Amarinder responded by accusing Sidhu of eyeing the Chief Minister post.
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Replying to a question by The Indian Express on Sidhu s remarks, Amarinder said after casting his vote in Patiala, It does not matter to me. If Sidhu wanted to challenge me and my job, then he should take it up with the high command…It is for the high command to decide on any action against Sidhu, but the Congress, as a party, does not tolerate indiscipline. I do not have any differences with Sidhu, whom I have known since he was a child.
He added: Perhaps he is ambitious and wants to be chief minister.
While campaigning for party candidate Amrinder Singh Raja Warring who is up against SAD s Harsimrat Kaur Badal in Bathinda on Friday, Sidhu had taken a dig at Amarinder s statement that he would quit if the Congress was wiped out from the state. Sidhu had said, Some people say they will quit if Congress is wiped out, I say I will quit if action is not taken in the sacrilege case.
Hitting out at Sidhu, the CM said, If he was a real Congressman, he should have chosen a better time to air his grievances, instead of just ahead of voting in Punjab. He is harming the party with such irresponsible actions.
As soon as polling got over, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Brahm Mohindra issued a statement saying that Sidhu s outburst amounted to sabotage at the time when Congress was working to achieve its Mission 13. He added that all Cabinet Ministers will write to the high command to take action in the matter.
Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa too hit out at Sidhu, saying that he will be responsible if SAD MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal won from Bathinda. Speaking to The Indian Express, Randhawa said, I always stood by Sidhu when nobody was ready to take a stand for him. But I am not in agreement with the statement he has given in Bathinda.
Sidhu tweeted a video on Sunday evening in which he said: Maine jo kuch bhi kaha atman se kaha…..Maine logon ko kaha ke aap hi SIT ho. Aap hi adalat ho….Nyay aap kar do….Thok do unn logon ko jinhone milibhugt ke sath Congress ki peeth mein chhurra ghompa hai. Kya galat hai?
After casting his vote in Amritsar, he told before mediapersons: The entire community is still hurt by sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib, pages of which were torn and scattered in streets and drains in 2015. Public is the real court to deliver the justice in this case and it is the Special Investigation Team (SIT) as well. So, I appeal to public to bring the culprits to justice as the time has reached for same.
Amid the brewing storm in the party, former state Congress president Partap Bajwa advised party leaders to exercise restraint. Better sense should prevail so that the party does not suffer, he said.