Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday agreed to a Congress plan to promote rival Navjot Singh Sidhu as the party’s state president and end the simmering mutiny but listed terms for the solution, sources said.
Captain Singh’s assent came after a meeting with Congress’s Punjab in-charge Harish Rawat who flew in a helicopter from Delhi to meet the Chief Minister in Chandigarh. Sources said Captain Singh agreed to accept any decision taken by party chief Sonia Gandhi.
However, Captain Singh also said that he should be involved by the party leadership while taking important decisions and that Mr Sidhu’s appointment should complement his efforts in helping the party come back to power in the next year’s elections, sources said.
The 79-year-old also demanded that he be given a free hand in reshuffling his cabinet and in the appointment of working presidents under Mr Sidhu.
According to sources, the compromise formula involves Mr Sidhu’s elevation as Punjab Congress President and the appointment of three working presidents who will be picked by Captain Singh. The Chief Minister’s cabinet will be expanded too and Hindus and Dalits and will be given priority.
The breakthrough came as Navjot Singh Sidhu held a series of meetings with senior party leaders in the state including the Punjab Congress Chief and tweeted that he was “seeking guidance”, dropping a big hint even as the announcement of his takeover was held up.
The rift between Amarinder Singh and Navjot Sidhu, festering since the Congress won the Punjab election in 2017, has endangered the party’s re-election bid next year. Mr Sidhu, who quit the BJP and joined the Congress just before the 2017 election, has been fighting for a bigger slice of power but so far, Mr Singh has been resistant to the idea.