Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu continued his campaign against the Charanjit Singh Channi government today, declaring that he will go on a hunger strike if the reports on drugs menace and the 2015 sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib were not made public. Non-action on the drugs issue was one of his big complaints against Mr Channi’s predecessor Amarinder Singh, who was forced to step down after a a year-long festering feud with in-house critics.
“The party came to power promising eradication of drugs,” Mr Sidhu said today.
“But if the government does not open the drug reports, I will go on a hunger strike. We need to show why the previous Chief Minister (Captain Amarinder Singh) sat on these reports. Now this government needs to open these reports. The court has not barred the state government from opening the reports,” Mr Sidhu said at a rally in Moga.
The state agencies’ reports on the drugs issue have been submitted to the High Court in sealed covers and Mr Sidhu wants the findings to be shared with the people.
The removal of Amarinder Singh has not brought much peace in Punjab Congress. With Mr Sidhu’s aspiration for the top post crashing again with the party Central leadership’s selection of Mr Channi, the cricketer-turned politician resumed the pressure on the state government.
Days after Mr Channi’s oath, he made his displeasure felt with the Chief Minister’s picks for cabinet, state police chief and the Advocate General. That time, he had threatened to quit the party and stuck to his guns till his demands were met.
The truce between him and the Chief Minister has been uncomfortable since.
Last month, Mr Sidhu wrote to Sonia Gandhi, listing a 13-point agenda on “priority areas” and promises made before 2017 polls he said “the state government must deliver upon”.
His suggestions ranged from arrest in drugs cases, creation of agricultural infrastructure and laws to control “cable mafia”.
The running feud within the Congress is being capitalized on by the Aam Aadmi Party, which has stepped up its campaign in Punjab.
Earlier this week, Arvind Kejriwal took at dig at the Punjab Congress chief.
“What Sidhu said yesterday on stage … I applaud his bravery. (Chief Minister Charanjit) Channi was saying ‘I have finished sand mafia in the state and reduced sand prices to ₹ 5 per kg’. Immediately, Sidhu said, ‘No… that is a lie. The rate is still ₹ 20’,” MrKejrwial told reporters.