By Linus Garg
First publised on 2021-07-18 06:28:22
There seems to be no end to the Congress' woes in Punjab. For the last couple of months, things have gone out of hand in the state when there were multiple dissenting voices against chief minister Amarinder Singh. But what was initially being seen as a fight between Singh and Navjot Sidhu has now become a fight between many factions on the one side and the chief minister on the other. The problem is it does not stop at that. The various factions ranged against Singh are also at each others' throat.
Hence, when the high command takes a decision to appoint Sidhu as the PCC chief, not only does Singh object but there are objections from the other factions too. The three-member panel formed by the high command does not seem to have made much headway and as of now, it has failed to bring the various factions on the same page. The Gandhis have also met Sidhu a couple of times but have not been able to bring an end to the dispute.
In the hectic activity that is taking place in the state's political circles, Sidhu is meeting MPs and MLAs, even those considered close to the chief minister in a bid to make them accept his appointment. Singh, on his part, wrote an angry letter to Sonia Gandhi and met Harish Rawat of the panel appointed to settle matters. In the end, Singh said he would accept Sidhu as PCC chief only if he renders a public apology for having insulted him in the recent past.
With the state elections due in 2022, the Congress needs to put its house in order to retain the state. For, although the state of the opposition is not healthy, it doesn't take much to antagonize voters if the party is not united. The first thing the Congress needs to decide is if it wants to keep the Captain in the saddle till the elections. If yes, then it must discipline Sidhu. In not, then it must show the Captain the door. But that is easier said than done for Singh is a grassroots politician and still commands respect and loyalty among Congress leaders and workers in the state. Further, even those who are not in Singh's camp are not naturally in Sidhu's camp. Hence, the Congress high command has its task cut out and it will take much heavy lifting before there is peace.