Navjot Sidhu To Stay, Congress To Form Punjab Coordination Team: Sources

Sources say Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi has relented on one of those sticking points - he may drop Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota as Punjab police chief.

Navjot Sidhu was upset about key appointments including those of police chief, the Attorney General

New Delhi:

A coordination committee tasked with monitoring the progress of the Congress's promises made before the 2017 Punjab polls -- this was the big decision of Thursday evening's meeting between Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and Navjot Singh Sidhu, who has agreed to stay on as the party's state unit chief. There is a buzz that the three-member committee might comprise Harish Chaudhary, the Chief Minister and Mr Sidhu. 

A compromise was on the cards since yesterday after the Chief Minister reached out to the sulking party chief, who quit on Monday after disagreeing with the Chief Minister's choice for his cabinet, state police chief and the Advocate General. 

His advisers Thursday said it was no more than an "emotional" outburst. 

The Congress leadership, said his advisor Mohammad Mustafa, understands that Mr Sidhu "acts emotionally at times".

"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," he added.

Mr Channi, the state's first Dalit Chief Minister whose selection is being hailed by many as a gamechanger for the Congress ahead of next year's state polls, had indicated that he was willing to consider suggestions. This morning, Mr Sidhu met him at the Punjab Bhavan. 

Sources indicated that Mr Channi is ready to accommodate Mr Sidhu on at least one point -- he may drop Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota as Punjab police chief. 

Mr Sidhu had objected to him over the investigation into the desecration of Guru Granth Sahib in 2015 - which was one of his biggest grouses against the Amarinder Singh government. Mr Sahota was the head of a Special Investigation Team to probe the incidents of sacrilege.

Mr Sidhu, who joined the Congress ahead of the 2017 elections after a stint in the BJP, had hoped to be Amarinder Singh's deputy after the elections. But Mr Singh had vetoed it. After his resignation, Mr Sidhu's hope to step into his shoes was crushed as the party high command chose Mr Channi for the job.

Mr Sidhu was elevated to the post of the party chief after his year-long, bitter feud with Amarinder Singh -- then Chief Minister and the party's tallest leader in Punjab. His promotion came at the behest of Gandhis, who were seen as backing the cricketer-turned politician through the bitter face-off. 

"My fight is issue-based and I have stood by it for a long time. I cannot compromise with my ethics, my moral authority," Mr Sidhu had said in a video statement yesterday. "What I witness is a compromise with issues, agenda in Punjab. I cannot misguide the high command nor can I let them be misguided," he had added.