Navjot Singh Sidhu signalled his growing clout with around 40 Punjab MLAs congregating at a function to felicitate him. The number is significant as it represents half the Punjab legislative contingent. Sidhu may want to see it as glass half full but it could now be his turn to get singed by the factionalism that he has stoked, unless he urgently rebuilds bridges with chief minister Amarinder Singh.
The duo are yet to make the customary joint appearance, at least for public consumption. Amarinder has also been meeting leaders loyal to him and hasn’t budged from his demand for a public apology from Sidhu. By clipping Amarinder’s wings and appointing Sidhu against his wishes the party high command has upped its stakes in Punjab.
So the central leadership will be held responsible if dissidence festers, hurting the party’s poll prospects.
Amarinder has now little time left to fulfill 2017 election promises like indentifying the culprits of the spate of gurdwara desecrations during the previous Akali tenure. Covid has dealt a massive blow with the state recording India’s highest case fatality rate. The opposition has also attempted to come out of its disarray with Akali Dal allying with BSP and AAP attempting to regroup. With all sides competing to woo farmers in their protest against agri reforms, no party may gain any perceptible benefit on that score.
Sidhu, with his history of broadsides against Amarinder, helps Congress project an alternative correctional force from inside. But will this be enough to keep voters moored to Congress for a second tenure?
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