'Congress is nearing the end of its life cycle, If They'd Let Me' Sidhu's Latest Googly
The opposition Akali Dal has also slammed Sidhu's remark, saying it demonstrated his contempt for the Dalit community.
Navjot Sidhu's outbursts continue to embarrass Congress at a time when the party's top command is attempting to clean house ahead of the 2022 Punjab Assembly poll. The ruling party's next headache came on Thursday, when Sidhu, who has yet to formally retract his resignation as chief of the Congress' Punjab branch, chose to lead party workers from Mohali to Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh to protest the horrific death of farmers.
Sidhu, who today began a fast seeking the arrest of Union Minister Ajay Mishra's son, appeared obviously disturbed in images of the group as they prepared to go off on their protest.
The former cricketer, whose promise to resign last month alarmed the Congress, especially since the party had backed him in his long and public fight with former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, was subsequently caught on tape criticising his own party. The video in question shows Sidhu's close aide and cabinet minister Pargat Singh trying to pacify him by saying Mr Channi would join them soon. Sukhwinder Singh Danny, one of the Punjab Congress' Working President, then tells Sidhu the march will be successful.
The response appears bitter; he says: "Where is the success? If Bhagwant Sidhu's son (a reference to his father) was allowed to lead, then you would have seen... Congress is in a dying stage..."
The remark has also been condemned by the opposition Akali Dal, which has said it showed Sidhu's lack of respect for the Dalit community. The Akalis have also declared the comment had revealed the Congress' "caste card" - ahead of the election - had been exposed.
"Persons who keep own ambition above people's welfare cannot give any direction to the state. They stand exposed... Congress President Sonia Gandhi should tell Punjabis why she tried to fool them by making a Scheduled Caste Chief Minister... but simultaneously reposes faith in Sidhu," Akali Dal leader Dr Daljit Singh Cheema said.
Over the last three months, Sidhu and Amarinder Singh have been engaged in an increasingly public and bitter feud, ending with Mr Singh declaring himself "humiliated" and resigning.
Amarinder Singh urged Congress not to trust Mr Sidhu and stated that he was committed to preventing his adversary from reclaiming his former position. The Amarinder-Sidhu feud stems back to the 2017 election, when Sidhu anticipated to be appointed Deputy Chief Minister, but Amarinder Singh reportedly blocked him.
In the hopes of quelling infighting, the Congress high command chose Sidhu as state unit chief and Charanjit Channi as Chief Minister (Punjab's first Dalit Sikh leader, and the selection was made because Dalits make up about a third of the state's population). Sidhu, on the other hand, appears to be just as unwilling to work with Channi as he was with Amarinder Singh.
His promise to resign as Punjab Congress chief was sparked by the Chief Minister's refusal to consult him on critical appointments, including the state's police chief.