Amid a political tussle over the likely elevation of Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu as the state Congress chief, at least 10 MLAs on Sunday issued a joint statement in support of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and urged the party high command not to “let him down”.
Seven Congress MLAs and three AAP legislators who recently switched over to the ruling party said Sidhu was a celebrity and was no doubt an asset to the party but condemning and criticising his own party and government in public has only created a “rift in the cadres and weakened it.”
Singh and Sidhu have been at loggerheads over various issues.
The joint statement was issued by Congress leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira on behalf of the 10 legislators. Among the seven Congress legislators are Kuldeep Singh Vaid, Fatehjang Bajwa and Harminder Singh Gill.
Besides Khaira, two rebel AAP legislators who issued the statement are Jagdev Singh Kamalu and Pirmal Singh Khalsa. Three of them had switched over to the Congress in the month of June.
In the statement, the legislators urged the party high command not to “let down” Amarinder Singh, saying because of his unrelenting efforts, the party stands well entrenched in Punjab.
They said there was no doubt that the appointment of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief was the prerogative of the party high command but at the same time “washing dirty linen” in public has only decreased the party graph during the last couple of months.
They said that Singh commanded immense respect across different sections of the society in the state, particularly the farmers for whom he even endangered his chair as CM while passing the 2004 Termination of Waters Agreement Act.
Singh stood as a tall leader amongst the Sikhs because of his principled stand during testing times, they said in the statement.
They said Singh had to also face “extreme vendetta politics” at the hands of the Badal family, for filing corruption and disproportionate assets cases against them in his first tenure as chief minister.
The MLAs said since merely six months were left for the elections, pulling the party into the different directions will only “harm” its prospects in the 2022 polls.
They also supported the decision of Singh not to meet Sidhu until he publicly tenders an apology for his “derogatory” tweets against him.
They said Sidhu should tender a public apology, so that the party and government can function in tandem.
They said they hoped the party high command would take cognizance of their suggestions and would definitely keep in mind the status, contribution and background of Amarinder Singh while making vital decisions for the party. (With PTI inputs)