In a sign that factionalism in the Congress is surging, about 62 MLAs arrived at Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu's residence in Amritsar. The move is widely seen as a show of strength by Sidhu, at a time when his dispute with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is at its peak.
The suspense over a possible truce between Sidhu and Singh continued as there has been no reaction from the chief minister over the Amritsar East MLA's elevation to the post of Punjab Congress chief. Before going to Amritsar, Sidhu had been calling on ministers and legislators in Chandigarh to mobilise support. He had already met several ministers, including Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Charanjit Singh Channi, Razia Sultana, Sukhbinder Sarkaria, Gurpreet Singh Kangar and Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa.
Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal has also congratulated Sidhu on becoming the president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC). Sidhu will pay obeisance at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on Wednesday and many Congress leaders are expected to be there.
Sidhu, who had been at loggerheads with the CM over various issues, was appointed the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief despite strong opposition from the CM. Singh was learnt to have told AICC general secretary Harish Rawat last week that he will not meet the cricketer-turned-politician until he publicly tenders an apology for his "derogatory" tweets against him.
"Why should Sidhu apologise to the [CM]? It is not a public issue. The chief minister has not solved many issues. In that case, he should also apologise to public," Congress MLA Pargat Singh said after breakfast at Sidhu's residence.
Earlier, senior Congress leader and cabinet minister Brahm Mahindra had ruled out any personal meeting with Sidhu till he resolves his issues with Chief Minister Singh.