The CM made it known that he would not meet Sidhu until the apology is delivered amid indications that the stage has been set for Sidhu’s appointment. The CM is understood to have been given a free hand in ministerial changes and the appointment of a deputy CM as also a “working president” under Sidhu.
Sidhu, meanwhile, went into overdrive to garner support of ministers and MLAs by holding a series of meetings with senior leaders, including current state chief Sunil Jakhar. The CM reportedly expressed annoyance on these counts to Congress in-charge Harish Rawat, who came to meet Amarinder Singh on the state government’s helicopter on Saturday ahead of a formal announcement of the Punjab Congress revamp.
Sources said Amarinder told Rawat that he was unhappy at “not being taken into confidence” during the deliberations regarding Sidhu’s elevation in the midst of “media leaks” and interviews. At the same time, the CM is believed to have said that the appointment of the new state chief was the prerogative of the Congress president and whoever she appoints will be acceptable to everybody.
Yet when Rawat wanted to call Sidhu for a meeting, the chief minister said he will not meet him until he publicly apologises and regrets the “150-odd personally derogatory tweets” against him. Sidhu had hit out at Amarinder on the issue of alleged inaction on the sacrilege case and electricity pacts.
Where the turn of events pointed to a resolution of the long-pending revamp of the state unit, there are also signs of continuing unease between the CM and Sidhu. Amarinder’s media adviser Raveen Thukral tweeted the CM’s statement, “Had a fruitful meeting with Harish Rawat. Reiterated that any decision of the Congress president will be acceptable to all. Raised certain issues which he said he’ll take up with Congress president.”
Rawat thanked Amarinder for reposing faith in party chief Sonia Gandhi and reiterating his previous stand that her decision about Punjab Congress chief would be acceptable to him. “Thank you for your great statement,” Rawat tweeted after reaching Delhi.
Sidhu had also met Congress Rajya Sabha MPs Partap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dullo on Friday in Delhi. He tweeted his pictures with them (and one with him and Jakhar) with the caption, “Seeking the guidance of presidents of the illustrious Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee … Conversations with wise men, worth months of education !!”