Navjot Singh Sidhu and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh met over a cup of tea earlier in the day.
Navjot Singh Sidhu today took charge as the new President of the Punjab Congress amid loud chants of his name from the audience. With Chief Amarinder Sindh in attendance on the stage, Sidhu looked set for a new chapter, leaving behind months of a crisis in the state party unit.
“I will work shoulder-to-shoulder with you. I have no ego…The Congress is united today, contrary to what our opposition is saying,” he said. “We need to resolve all these issues, we have to do the politics of change,” he said, hinting at the CM.
However, slight hints of the recent turmoil in the party was sensed, especially involving Mr Singh, when he said, “Those who oppose me, improve me.”
Referring to the acute electricity problem in the Punjab, Mr Sidhu said, “Why should we buy electricity for 18 rupees? What kind of compromise will be revealed? Why not this theft be caught?”
Mr Sidhu and Mr Singh had a face off for months till the former was appointed Punjab Congress President last week. Hours before the inauguration, the two met up for tea at Punjab Bhawan in Chandigarh.
The end of hostilities were apparently marked by the ‘tea party’ today, given that Mr Singh had till recently refused to meet Mr Sidhu until the latter publicly apologised for his severe social media criticism.
Mr Sidhu indicated that all that was now being put behind.
“My fights are not the issue. The farmers sitting in Delhi, the problems of doctors and nurses…these are the real issues,” he said. “We have to resolve the issues, then we are true before god.” Deploying his famous “Sidhuism”, he said in Punjabi: “Zyada nahin bolna si, par visphotak bolna si. (Don’t speak much, but speak explosively)”.
Chief Minister Singh, speaking at the installation ceremony, struck a nostalgic note referring to his decades-old ties to Mr Sidhu’s family.
“When Sidhu was born in 1963, I was in the army. When I left the army in 1970, my mother asked me to join politics. She said ‘meet with Bhagwan Singh Sidhu’, the father of Navjot Sidhu. This is the relation I share with him,” Mr Singh said.
“When Sonia Gandhi said Navjot Singh Sidhu will be the next Congress chief in Punjab, I said whatever the high command decides I will abide by the decision,” he said, repeating a line he said earlier, during the party infighting.
The CM also focused on the Aam Admi Party (AAP), who are perceived to be gaining political ground in Punjab. “I have no faith in AAP…There are reports that they have some dealings with Pakistan,” he said.
Mr Sidhu, too, touched on this matter saying that the “Delhi model will be blown away by the Punjab model”, adding with a note, “baat khatam (end of the matter)”.
Punjab goes to polls early in 2022.