Navjot Singh Sidhu, Amarinder Singh spat may hurt Congress in Punjab

first_imgThe intensifying tussle between Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and his cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu threatens to hurt the Congress party’s image in one of the few States where it performed well in the last Lok Sabha elections, according to political analysts. Mr. Sidhu is yet to take charge of his new allotted Power ministry after being divested of the key Local Government ministry and analysts said the former cricketer was unlikely to take the change in portfolio lying down. “Congress is already riddled with factionalism in many States; the ongoing spat between the two leaders in Punjab is not a good sign for the party,” said Mohammed Khalid, Professor of Political Science at Panjab University. “Congress is going through a tough situation at the national level and such episodes [the internal tussle] will only make the revival of the party very difficult,” he added. Capt. Amarinder had on Thursday divested Mr. Sidhu of the Local Government and Tourism and Cultural Affairs departments and allocated the Power and New and Renewable Energy Sources portfolios. However, barring four ministers, the Chief Minister had made some changes to the portfolios of all the other ministers. The two leaders have been at loggerheads since the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls. Capt. Amarinder had hit out at Mr. Sidhu after the results, asserting that “Sidhu’s damaging remarks ahead of polling” might have affected the party’s performance in the Bathinda parliamentary constituency, where the Congress candidate lost to the Shiromani Akali Dal’s Harsimrat Kaur Badal. The veteran Congress leader had also blamed his junior cabinet colleague for not handling his department well, which he claimed had resulted in the Congress’s “poor performance” in the urban areas in the elections. Mr. Sidhu had retorted by asserting that he was being “singled out publicly” even though urban areas had played a critical role in the party’s victory in the Lok Sabha polls.“Amarinder Singh has emerged as a strong leader after the Lok Sabha polls,” said Ashutosh Kumar, Professor of Political Science at Panjab University. “But on the other hand Sidhu may also not back down. At this time party’s central leadership needs to come into play. If the spat continues it will eventually weaken the party,” Prof. Kumar remarked.Ronki Ram, Dean at the Department of Social Science at Panjab University, said a public spat was bad for the party’s future prospects. “Punjab was the only State where the Congress had a face saving performance in the Lok Sabha polls and there’s no doubt that Capt. Amarinder led from the front,” observed Prof. Ram. “Mr. Sidhu needs to understand that attacking one leader does not mean that you can establish your hold on the party. Respect in the party has to be cultivated and it may take years. If differences are not brushed aside the party will surely suffer.”last_img

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