At Delhi meeting, Sonia ‘offers’ Cabinet berth, AICC role to Navjot Sidhu

Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, February 8

Congress president Sonia Gandhi today met former Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu for about 25 minutes here and is learnt to have reiterated the party’s offer of a state Cabinet berth for him or even a central role if he desires so.

The meeting, held at Sonia’s residence, was also attended by AICC general secretary and in charge for Punjab affairs Harish Rawat and AICC general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal.

The presence of Venugopal was seen as a signal that the party high command wanted to placate Sidhu with the offers of a state Cabinet berth or an organisational role or both.

Sidhu had sought the meeting a long time ago, but it had been delayed due to Sonia’s ill health and farmers’ agitation.

Rawat has been publicly asserting that Sidhu would be duly accommodated with the latter even coming out happy from a breakfast meeting with Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh in November last year.

Sidhu has been eyeing the post of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president currently held by Sunil Jakhar. The organisational chief’s position is key in the Congress as the PPCC president has a massive say in the distribution of tickets during the elections.

The effort on Sonia’s part today appeared to be on breaking the prolonged deadlock on the role of Sidhu in the Congress.

With the state elections slated in 2022, the party would want the stalemate to end and a battle-ready organisation to be in place before that.

Sidhu’s bargaining power is also limited with the Congress appearing to be the current beneficiary of the farmers’ agitation and AAP largely fragmented in Punjab.

Congress sources said Sidhu could go back to the state Cabinet and settle for his people to be accommodated in the organisation which has been in a limbo since 2019. The meeting also signalled early possibilities of a Punjab Cabinet and PPCC reshuffle.

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At Delhi meeting, Sonia ‘offers’ Cabinet berth, AICC role to Navjot Sidhu