- Amarinder Singh brushes aside rumours of patch up with Navjot Sidhu
- "We talked alot. We talked about cricket," Amarinder Singh said
- Navjot Singh Sidhu has been a major critic of Amarinder Singh
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday brushed away speculation triggered by his lunch meeting with cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, his biggest rival and critic within the Congress, saying there was nothing to be read between the lines.
"People often make a mountain of a molehill. Navjot ji wanted to meet me, so I said sure, come have lunch. I call so many of colleagues, who want to meet me, to lunch. So I invited him just like that. He came, sat for an hour, we talked a lot. We talked about cricket," he said.
Captain Singh had invited Mr Sidhu to his home for lunch on Wednesday and two were "expected to discuss state and national politics over the luncheon meeting," tweeted the Chief Minister's media adviser, fanning rumours about a possible patch-up between the two and that Mr Sidhu might be offered a seat in the cabinet again.
Mr Sidhu, who was a minister in Amarinder Singh's government, stepped down last year and had gone on a self-imposed exile. The Chief Minister maintained that that Mr Sidhu, inducted in the party from the BJP just three years ago, cannot be elevated to the post of the state president for now.
Considered close to Rahul Gandhi, Mr Sidhu was given the post of the deputy Chief Minister after the Congress won the state in 2017. However, he ran into trouble with Amarinder Singh after his visit to Pakistan and controversial photos hugging the country's army chief at an event.
The rift between the two leaders in Punjab - one of the few states ruled by the Congress - was seen as a complication for the party, with only two years to go before the next assembly elections.
Mr Sidhu had been vocal about the farmers' protest, and some of his criticism has been directed at his own party's government in the state.
According to Congress sources, after an intervention by former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat - appointed party in-charge in the state by the top leadership to bridge the gap -- a rapprochement was attempted.
Over the last month, Mr Sidhu had avoided any criticism of the Chief Minister and even supported his march against the farm laws in Delhi.
Wednesday's meeting between the two, held at Mr Singh's official residence was "warm and cordial", where the two leaders spent a "pleasant hour" discussing a host of "important political matters of Punjab and national interest", the Chief Minister's media advisor said.