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Sonia Gandhi appoints Navjot Sidhu as Punjab Congress chief, snubs Amarinder Singh

Meanwhile, Gandhi also appointed four working presidents to assist Sidhu in the run-up to the next Assembly elections.
 

Sonia Gandhi appoints Navjot Sidhu as Punjab Congress chief, snubs Amarinder Singh-dnm
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New Delhi, First Published Jul 19, 2021, 9:52 AM IST
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In a surprise move at the end of a day where the Amarinder Singh camp got all the Congress Lok Sabha MPs from Punjab and several MLAs to plead his case, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday evening appointed Navjot Sidhu as the head of Punjab Congress.

The decision was announced after several meetings between the higher leadership of the Congress party and Sidhu. The 57-year-old Minister had also met Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, in the past few days.

Meanwhile, Gandhi also appointed four working presidents to assist Sidhu in the run-up to the next Assembly elections.

The new working presidents are Sangat Singh Gilzian, Sukhwinder Singh Danny, Pawan Goel and Kuljit Singh Nagra.

“Congress president has appointed Navjot Singh Sidhu as the president of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee with immediate effect,” according to a party statement.

“The party appreciates the contributions of outgoing PCC president Sunil Jakhar,” the statement said.

Sidhu’s appointment attests to the niche that the cricketer-turned-politician has carved for himself since he left BJP and joined Congress in 2017 assembly elections and the way he positioned himself as the anti-Amarinder Singh voice in the Punjab Congress apparatus as well as an anti-Badal campaigner. It also indicated a decisive say of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in party affairs.

Many believe that the way he held the AAP threat over the party, with speculation that he could defect if he was ignored, also played a role in his elevation. Election strategist Prashant Kishor’s input to the Gandhis during their recent meeting is also being speculated about. Incidentally, Kishor is an advisor to CM Singh.

Sidhu had earlier, too, served in Amarinder Singh’s cabinet but had resigned after his portfolio was changed in 2019, which upset the former cricketer. Since then, the two politicians have locked horns on several issues.

Following the announcement regarding Sidhu, incumbent PCC chief Sunil Jakhar cancelled a meeting he had called of MLAs and district chiefs Monday to pass a resolution urging the high command to take a decision soon. A similar meeting had been planned by the Punjab Youth Congress. The announcement on Sidhu initially was expected after the meetings, till Delhi pulled out the Sunday night surprise.

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