OVER a month after he resigned as Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president, Navjot Singh Sidhu has finally taken back his resignation, but the damage may have already been done. And, going by his statements made at the press conference held on Friday, the cricketer-turned-commentator-turned-comedian-turned-politician may inflict more damage to the electoral prospects of his party in the coming days. The motormouth politician isn’t done playing the rampaging bull in the China shop.
In the last two odd months that the state got a new chief minister, Sidhu has issued more warning and threats to his party and its government than the opposition. Hear his speeches and get the message loud and clear: the comedian is busy turning the Congress government into a joke. His politics these days seems to be all about swinging from one ultimatum to another – all to his party’s government.
Among other shortcomings as a politician, Navjot Singh Sidhu seems to have somehow started believing that the ‘I’ in Congress refers to him, forgetting in the process that there is no ‘I’ in brackets suffixed after the Congress party. For several years, even though officially there was no Congress (I), loyalists used to refer to the party as Congress (I), with ‘I’ referring to Indira Gandhi since she had established the current version of the party after her showdown and eventual split from the Syndicate-led Congress.
At the press conference on Friday, like every single one earlier, Sidhu’s every third or fourth sentences were about himself and how he was fighting for Punjab against everyone on the other side. And his party’s government headed by Charanjit Singh Channi isn’t? After all, that is the impression Sidhu, considered close to Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, has been creating ever since he lost the race to become the chief minister after the party decided to ditch Capt Amarinder Singh for non-performance.
With just about two months left before the state is brought under the model code of conduct for the Assembly elections, Sidhu is repeatedly taking the focus away from his party’s work and refusing to allow Channi, the Dalit legislator who was the surprise choice for Chief Minister, to grow in stature.
He did the same today when he told mediapersons that while he had withdrawn his resignation, he was categorically stating that he would take (resume) charge of his post only after the new Advocate General is appointed and a new panel sent for the post of DGP.
While Sidhu’s criticism of the choice of Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota as DGP and APS Deol as Advocate General may not have been completely baseless, the crude manner in which he turned the same into a Sidhu-versus-Congress government issue will ensure that the party would suffer in the electoral arena due to his antics.
As a senior political commentator once observed about Sidhu, everything for him seems to be about “main taan mera” (I, me and myself).
It is as if he has decided that in following his agenda of self-promotion, if his party or the party’s government suffers due to his theatrics, so be it. Sidhu is bigger than the party!
In issuing ultimatums to his own party’s government, Sidhu is weakening the party, possibly without even realising it.
There are many in Punjab Congress who say Sidhu has not been able to stomach the fact that it is Channi and not he, who is occupying the Chief Minister’s chair. This may not necessarily be true, for those who know him, also know he does feel strongly about the issues like war on drugs, mining cartels, etc, and won’t ever compromise on them.
But somebody, preferably the Gandhi family siblings, should have warned him about the perils of taking too strong a public stand on any issue, lest it become a noose around the Congress government’s neck. Sidhu has done exactly that, and chances are that he will continue to do so, even if it affects the Congress’s electoral prospects.
Maneesh Chhibber is a Contributing Editor with India Ahead News. The views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author.