India / Punjab's last chance for resurrection: Sidhu to Sonia in letter on state polls

Zoom News : Oct 17, 2021, 05:53 PM
New Delhi: Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu has sought a meeting with party president Sonia Gandhi, flagging in his letter issues which the government "must deliver upon" and saying it is the poll-bound state's "last chance for resurrection and redemption".

In the letter to the Congress president on October 15, a day after he had meetings with senior party leaders in Delhi, Sidhu pitched for a "Punjab Model with a 13-Point Agenda to be part of the Congress manifesto for the 2022 Assembly Elections".

Days after resigning as Punjab Congress chief, Sidhu had on October 15 said his concerns have been resolved and the party asserted that he will continue as the head of the state unit. The resolution came after the cricketer-turned-politician met Rahul Gandhi and raised his concerns.

The letter to Sonia Gandhi reminded her of the party's 18-point agenda "given to the last chief minister" of Punjab and said that those were "equally relevant today".

"Today, I write to your esteemed self with priority areas among the 18-point agenda of the 2017 campaign and the manifesto promises which the state government must deliver upon," said Sidhu in the letter where he did not put his designation as the state Congress chief.

He said the people of Punjab demand justice for the 2015 police firing at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan in Faridkot following the desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib during the previous SAD-BJP regime.

On the drugs issue, the Punjab Congress chief said, "The big fish mentioned in the STF report must be immediately arrested and given exemplary punishment."

He also wrote that the state government must reject the "three black farm laws" of the Centre "by announcing that they will not be implemented in Punjab at any cost".

The state government must release a white paper on power purchase agreements and cancellation of "all faulty PPAs as promised by us", Sidhu said in the letter.

He also batted for more representation to the Dalits and Backward Classes in the state cabinet.

"Even after High Command's progressive decision of appointing a Dalit chief minister to give the under-privileged more voice in the government, it has not been supported in the state in equal measure.

"We should have at least one Mazbhi Sikh in Cabinet, representation to Dalits from Doaba, at least two representatives from Backward Caste Community in the Cabinet," he wrote.

Sidhu claimed that it might be the "last damage-control exercise or else, mafia-raj ruling the state patronized by the Badals will take the state to the extent of financial emergency, corruption and agrarian crisis from which there will be no return".

"Thus, I request you kindly consider these points and give your august direction to the state government to act in the best interests of the people of Punjab immediately," he wrote to Sonia Gandhi.

In the letter, Sidhu sought a meeting with Gandhi to present to her a "Punjab Model with a 13-Point Agenda to be part of the Congress manifesto for the 2022 Assembly Elections".

The Punjab Congress chief described the "13-point agenda" as separate from the issues he raised in his letter.

Sidhu had posted his resignation as state unit chief on Twitter on September 28. He was not happy with the appointment of the new Punjab Police chief and the advocate general, besides some portfolio allocations to ministers after the new cabinet formation.

During the meeting with Congress senior leaders K C Venugopal and Rawat, the Punjab Congress leader had raised his concerns over the 18-point agenda taken up by the leadership on which actions are pending.

These included action against those involved in the sacrilege issue and the drugs mafia.

The other issues flagged by Sidhu in his letter to Sonia Gandhi include sand mining and transport and stressed that those be resolved at the earliest.

"After multiple deliberations and consultations with party workers from across Punjab and with a deep understanding of the public sentiment over 17 years of public life, I express with a lot of pain in my heart that this is Punjab's last chance for resurrection and redemption," he wrote in his letter.

Sidhu's letter, which he put in the public domain by posting on Twitter, indicates that he is still not satisfied with Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi-led government over its handling of key issues which he has been raising in the recent past.

Channi became the chief minister after the unceremonious exit of Congress veteran Amarinder Singh, who had been at loggerheads with Sidhu.

In his letter to Sonia Gandhi, Sidhu wrote, "We must give fixed power subsidy to all domestic consumers, be it the decreasing price of power to 3 Rs per unit or 300 Units of free power to all".

He also wrote that there is a need to break the backbone of the "cable mafia" in the state.

Punjab, for decades, was the richest state of the country and today it is the most indebted state of India, he claimed.

"Punjab is submerged under lakhs of crores of debt due to gross financial mismanagement over last 25 years and diversion of public resources making a few powerful people rich and having left the state debt-distressed," Sidhu wrote.