The Congress, which was appearing indomitable six months ago in Punjab, is today battling to keep its flock together, hampering its poll prospects. The ensuing power battle between CM Amarinder Singh and MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu has left the party reeling under the heat while it should have been preparing for the next year’s assembly election in the state.
A local Congress MLA Tarsem Singh DC said that the party finds itself standing in a queue, in stark contrast to the situation six months ago when there was an overwhelming consensus that it will win hands down in 2022.
The Congress party workers and leaders in the state are eagerly awaiting a decision as a three-member panel formed to assess the situation has already submitted its report to the high command. The party leadership and the panel have already met 150 leaders from Punjab to get a sense of the crisis. This, after several party leaders went open with their dissent saying that the party high command must find a speedy resolution to the crisis.
The trouble that was brewing inside the party became apparent after April when the High Court gave a clean chit to SAD supremo and former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal in the case related to Kotkapura police firing on protesters over the desecration issue.
Sidhu, who was already feeling betrayed after being ousted from Punjab Cabinet in 2019, openly slammed Amarinder Singh for mishandling the investigation. The sentiment related to the case was widely present among other leaders and they soon joined the chorus. The Congress had promised justice in the Kotkapura police firing case and it has even figured in its party manifesto.
The dissent which was a result of Sidhu’s ouster and Kotkapura incident spiralled out enough to include other issues like high electricity tariffs, high power bills, unemployment, a safe harbour to drug traffickers along with complaints of CM Singh being inaccessible even to party leaders.
Dalvir Singh Goldy, a first-time Congress MLA from Dhuri claimed people feel that Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, who headed the SIT probing the sacrilege case was not monitored by anyone and now he has quit the force and joined AAP.
Then there are farmers suffering from power outage issues. Also, there are complaints of inaccessibility and red tape from across the state.
Some party leaders told The Indian Express that there are several non-performing ministers and the party should weed them out.
A legislator from Ludhiana told the IE that party workers and leaders have a problem with CM Singh’s coterie as the CM has given unbridled power to his officers and that is leading to red-tapism.
With the main opposition party AAP putting an all-out effort to woo the voters and dissent among people against the BJP over farm laws and against the SAD over the sacrilege issue, if the Congress fails to find a solution to the ongoing hiatus, it may lose the ground in a state that once appeared to be in its control.