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Tantrum Politics


Throwing tantrums may pay off for a spoiled child, but in the big bad world outside the parents’ home, it doesn’t work. Navjot Singh Sidhu seems to be learning this the hard way. He started a war but it is unfolding according to its own logic. His campaign against Amarinder Singh in Punjab may have led to a change in Chief Minister but it didn’t entirely pan out as he wanted. The choice of a Dalit CM ensured that, if the party wins in Punjab under his command, there is no way that any other person would be in position to replace him. That would leave Sidhu out in the cold, once again.

It is this realisation, perhaps, that encouraged new incumbent Charanjit Singh Channi to exert his authority from the very beginning by allocating portfolios to new ministers as he wished, disregarding Sidhu’s wishes in the matter. Enraged at being side-lined so early in the game, Sidhu has tendered his resignation from the State Party President’s post. He may or may not stick to the resignation – a lot depends upon the High Command – but it is evident that no self-respecting party leadership will countenance such behaviour just after matters had been resolved with great difficulty and with the sacrifice (and humiliation) of a senior leader like Amarinder. Members of Sidhu’s faction, too, would not like to stand by him in any future stand-off as he could lead them into further marginalisation.

All of this drama coincides with Amarinder Singh’s departure for New Delhi to ‘meet his friends’. Rumours were afloat on Tuesday that he could meet Home Minister Amit Shah. This is enough to set the alarm bells ringing, as any tie-up with the BJP could complicate matters further and add another twist to the coming electoral contest. In the meanwhile, Amarinder had his moment when he reminded the Congress that Sidhu was ‘unstable’ and unfit to lead in a border state. It is important to note that Amarinder’s stand on national security has coincided with that of the BJP and has been much appreciated across the board. It could become the basis for future political affiliation.
Whatever unfolds in the coming days from this drama, it will considerably damage the Congress. If the High Command shilly-shallies further on this matter, the party will suffer even greater damage. It should stand by Channi and no longer submit to blackmail from any quarter.