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“Purge The Party”: Navjot Sidhu’s War Cry Amid Congress’ Himachal Crisis


The Congress’ Punjab leader, Navjot Singh Sidhu, this morning launched a strong attack on six party lawmakers who cross-voted in Tuesday’s Rajya Sabha election – handing the party a defeat in an exercise it should have won with ease – and then appeared to ally with the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The shock Rajya Sabha loss has triggered a political crisis in the hill state – in which the Congress cantered to a win less than two years ago – with the BJP now demanding that Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu’s depleted government prove its strength in the 68-member House.

“Himachal fiasco calls for an assessment of assets and liabilities for the ‘Grand Old Party’…”

Mr Sidhu then ripped into “‘masqueraders’… covertly dancing to the tunes of agencies like CBI, ED…” and declared the Congress well-rid of leaders who “prioritise personal gain over the collective good”.

“‘Masqueraders’ (for) plum posts, covertly dancing to the tunes of agencies like Central Bureau of Investigation, Enforcement Directorate, and Income Tax Department, have spelt doomsday for us many-a-times!” the former India cricketer posted on X.

“The loss is not Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi saheb‘s but larger… It is essential to purge the party of those who prioritise personal gain over the collective good, for their actions inflict profound wounds on the party’s very existence. The wounds might heal but the mental scars will remain…”

“Their gain is the Congress worker’s biggest pain. Loyalty is not everything but the only thing!!!”

The Congress’ Himachal Situation

On Tuesday evening, as whispers of cross-voting by Congress MLAs turned into reality, the sole Rajya Sabha seat vacant in this round of polling slithered out of the party’s grasp and into the BJP’s pocket.

Six MLAs voted against the party line and the Congress , which till then thought it held 40 of the Assembly’s 68 seats, was left wondering exactly what happened. And then came a bigger blow.

The BJP – boosted by the six rebels – sought a floor test for Mr Sukhu.

The Congress had 40 MLAs. It is now thought to have only 34.

The BJP had 25 MLAs. It is now thought to have the same number.

The majority mark in the Assembly is 35, making this a potentially explosive crisis.

Sidhu’s Barbs

The cricketer-turned-politician’s sharp comments come amid tension (yet again) between himself and the Congress, after he held rallies across Punjab without clearance from the party’s state unit.

Senior leaders Amarinder Singh Raja Warring and Partap Singh Bajwa have both warned the cricketer-turned-politician, whose run-ins with ex-chief ministers Amarinder Singh and Charanjit Singh Channi were seen as contributing to the party’s heavy defeat in the 2022 election.

READ | Sidhu’s Rallies Bare Congress’s Biggest Punjab Hurdle. It’s Not AAP

The face-off has also sparked speculation Mr Sidhu may be planning a return to the BJP, which he left in 2017. Should he do so, he will join a short but significant list of Congress leaders – which includes Amarinder Singh and former state unit boss Sunil Jakhar – who have crossed the aisle in Punjab.

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