Punjab Congress Crisis: How infighting started in the party, which became the reason for Amarinder Singh’s resignation today

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday tendered his resignation amid months-long political tussle with his rival Navjot Singh Sidhu. The Congress returned to power in Punjab in 2017 with a thumping majority, but soon infighting broke out in the state unit. After the Punjab and Haryana High Court rejected the report submitted by an SIT in the Kotkapura firing case, the rebellion came to the fore.

This decision of the High Court proved to be a major setback for the Congress government led by Singh. Not only this, the then state party chief Sunil Jakhar and cabinet minister Sukhjinder Randhawa had even offered to resign on this issue.

What was the Kotkapura shooting incident?

In fact, on October 14, 2015, the police had opened fire on people who were protesting against the sacrilege of Sri Guru Granth Sahib at Bargadi in Faridkot district. More than 25 people were injured in this. The police had lodged a complaint that they were attacked by the protesters, in which several police personnel were injured, but following the recommendations of the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission, charges were filed against Gurdeep Singh Pandher, head constable Rachpal Singh, former MLA Mantar Singh Brar and other officials. The SIT had registered the case.

Captain Amarinder Singh constituted a commission of inquiry headed by Justice Ranjit Singh as soon as he came to power, which recommended the SIT.

Navjot Singh Sidhu, who was already vocal against the Captain, got the support of more MLAs within the party due to this, after which Congress President Sonia Gandhi formed a committee to probe the entire feud. The committee was headed by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge.

The committee submitted a report on the issue and recommended Singh’s continuance, but also to give Sidhu a role in the state unit and rebuild the party structure in Punjab.

Following this, in July 2021, the Congress appointed Sidhu as the Punjab unit chief, while the Captain relentlessly opposed giving him the post. Sangat Singh Gilzian, Sukhwinder Singh Daini, Pawan Goyal and Kuljit Singh Nagra were appointed as working presidents, paving the way for significant reforms in the organizational structure.

Make the one who you trust, make him the chief minister, after resigning, the captain got angry at the Congress high command

But all these changes also failed to remove factionalism in the Punjab Congress, as Sidhu continued to target the Chief Minister on different issues. The rift in the party was growing because, in the months-long feud, Singh was feeling humiliated, as he also told the media.

He was unhappy with the Congress high command calling MLAs twice in the last two months and abruptly calling the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting in Chandigarh.

“I was humiliated thrice by the Congress leadership in the last two months. They called MLAs to Delhi twice and now the CLP in Chandigarh,” Captain Amarinder Singh told the media after submitting his resignation to the Governor on Saturday. He further said, “I spoke to the Congress President this morning, told him that I would resign today.”

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