Amid the hectic activities, Sidhu’s tweet saying that AAP “has always recognised my work” triggered speculation if it was another bare-knuckle attempt by him to push the party into accepting his demand to be made the state unit chief.
Replying to AAP’s challenge, Sidhu said, “Our opposition AAP has always recognised my vision & work for Punjab. Be it before 2017- Beadbi (sacrilege), Drugs, Farmers Issues, Corruption & Power Crisis faced by People of Punjab raised by me or today as I present ‘Punjab Model’, it is clear they know – who is really fighting for Punjab.” He posted videos of AAP leaders praising him in the past.
Congress general secretary in charge of Punjab Harish Rawat on Tuesday met Rahul Gandhi and announced that “good news would be coming for Punjab Congress in 3-4 days”, suggesting that the party was ready to make a final stab at settling the infighting and lobbying that has roiled the election-bound state for several weeks.
Rawat’s remark came in the backdrop of intense negotiations by the cricketer-turned politician for the post of state president, a move that is strongly opposed by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. Sources said Sidhu is the front-runner for the post of state president.
Even as events were playing out, political strategist Prashant Kishor, who is advisor to the Punjab CM, met Rahul Gandhi.
However, Rawat said the Kishor-Rahul meeting was not about Punjab, adding that “many people meet Rahul with their views while Rahul too takes inputs from different individuals”. Reports said Kishor met Rahul, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Sonia Gandhi about 2024 elections and the planning ahead, like the opposition front.
Rawat’s meeting with Rahul was said to have included AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who has taken keen interest in Punjab affairs besides emerging as a backer of Sidhu.
Congress claimed Sidhu had only uploaded a 2017 video of AAP leader Bhagwant Mann praising him, in response to Mann’s challenge. Mann tweeted that political donations from power companies to Congress were the reason why the power purchase agreements in the state were not cancelled by the Amarinder Singh government, and challenged Sidhu to tweet about them.
Given the muddied political waters in Punjab and Sidhu’s aggressive lobbying during the last two months in which he has also secured the backing of Priyanka, there is suddenly a buzz that Sidhu may have his wish fulfilled, a far cry from the estimates till now that the possibility was ruled out.
But party sources said that if Sidhu‘s wish was to be accepted, then CM Singh will have to be on board so that he does not throw a fit. A possible way out in that situation would be that Sidhu be appointed the PCC chief with three working presidents from Hindu communities, while the CM is upfront declared as the party mascot for the 2022 polls.