Navjot Singh Sidhu is likely to stay on as Punjab Congress chief for now, sources say, with Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi reportedly agreeing to withdraw a top appointment in their meeting today, the first since Mr Sidhu suddenly resigned on Tuesday.
“Sidhu Sahab maan gaye hain (Sidhu has relented),” said sources after the two leaders emerged smiling from the three-hour-long meeting.
Mr Sidhu had been upset about key appointments including those of ministers, the police chief and the Attorney General. Sources say Mr Channi has accepted Mr Sidhu’s demand on at least one of those sticking points. The details of the agreement would be revealed in Delhi, said sources.
Signs of a compromise were visible when Mr Sidhu drove down from Patiala to Chandigarh in the afternoon. “Chief Minister has invited me for talks … will reciprocate by reaching Punjab Bhawan, Chandigarh at 3:00 PM today, he is welcome for any discussions!” – Mr Sidhu tweeted.
Mohammad Mustafa, adviser to Navjot Sidhu, had also told NDTV that the “issue will be resolved soon”.
“The Congress leadership understands Navjot Sidhu and Sidhu is not beyond the Congress leadership. He is not Amarinder Singh, who never cared for the Congress and its leadership,” Mr Mustafa said.
He said the Congress leadership understands that Mr Sidhu “acts emotionally at times”.
Mr Sidhu, named Punjab Congress chief in July as part of a truce brokered by the party, quit on Tuesday saying he could “never compromise on Punjab’s future and the agenda for the welfare of Punjab.”
Mr Sidhu’s resignation was a surprise for the Gandhis; Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had supported him against Amarinder Singh, taking a huge political risk close to the polls.
Yesterday, he posted a video defending his move. “My fight is issue-based and I have stood by it for a long time. I cannot compromise with my ethics, my moral authority. What I witness is a compromise with issues, agenda in Punjab. I cannot misguide the high command nor can I let them be misguided,” Mr Sidhu said in Punjabi.
Chief Minister Channi had said yesterday he could reconsider some of the appointments. “I told Sidhu that the party believes in consultations, please come and we can fix this. If anyone has any objections to any appointment, then I am not rigid on that. There is no ego tussle,” Mr Channi told reporters.