Discord in Punjab Cong: Navjot Sidhu Slams CM Over Sacrilege Case
Sidhu alleged that his party colleagues were being threatened for speaking the truth.
As the infighting in the Congress' Punjab unit intensified, former state minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Tuesday, 18 May, censured Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, alleging that his colleagues were being threatened for speaking the truth.
The sharp attack came a day after Rajya Sabha MP Pargat Singh accused the Chief Minister’s political advisor, Sandeep Sandhu, of terrorizing him for raising questions on the state government’s handling of the ‘sacrilege’ incidents.
What Is the Sacrilege Case?
In 2015, the police had reportedly taken strict action and fired at civilians protesting the desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib – a religious text of Sikhs – at Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura of Faridkot.
Two people were killed in the police firing at Behbal Kalan.
Subsequently, a one-man commission was set up by the Congress-led government in 2017 to investigate the incident of desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib and the police firing.
Discord in Punjab Congress
Amarinder and Sidhu have been involved in a factional feud that has compounded over the past few weeks over of the two publicly exchanging aspersions over the sacrilege incident probe.
This animosity came after the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashed an SIT report into the Kotkapura firing incident of 2015, following which Sidhu accused the CM of evading responsibility in the case and demanded action against the perpetrators.
Recently, Sidhu uploaded a video of Pargat’s press conference on his Twitter handle. Pargat had alleged that Sandhu was conveying a message from the CM and had threatened action against him for raising objections in front of the state government.
Sidhu subsequently tweeted, “Ministers, MLAs and MPs raising people's issues are strengthening the party, fulfilling their democratic duties and exercising their constitutional right. But anyone who speaks the truth becomes your enemy. Thus, you threaten your party colleagues, exhibiting your fear and insecurity.”
However, party spokesperson Supriya Shrinate has claimed that there was no factionalism in it’s state unit – only a diverse range of views among the leaders, PTI reported.
According to Shrinate, the priority of the Punjab chief minister is to fight the pandemic right now.
On Tuesday, Congress MP Partap Bajwa urged Harish Rawat, the in-charge of Punjab affairs of the AICC, to visit Punjab and participate in an all-legislators meeting to take stock of the prevailing political situation.
Compounding the tension between the CM and his newfound adversaries in the party, the Punjab State Women Commission Chairperson, Manisha Gulati, threatened to go on a hunger strike to demand action against state minister Charanjit Singh Channi over a case of alleged harassment of an IAS officer.
Channi, the state’s Technical Education Minister, had allegedly sent an inappropriate text message to a woman IAS officer in 2018. Gulati demanded that the state government apprise her of its stand on the issue within a week.
On Tuesday, a meeting took place at Channi’s residence, where 12 MLAs, including five ministers, were present, PTI reported. Speaking for Channi, state minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa questioned Gulati for "raking up" the alleged harassment case after more than two years, PTI reported.
The incident involved the central party leadership, following which Bajwa said Channi called off a press conference scheduled for Tuesday.
On being questioned on a possible Vigilance Bureau probe, Randhawa said that Vigilance should not be used against party leaders as this may create an ‘explosive situation’, PTI reported.
Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar on Monday had slammed reports of a Vigilance probe against inter-party leaders and asserted there was no truth to it.
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.