A day after Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi sacked the party's chiefs in the five states where it suffered humiliating losses, the party's Punjab chief Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned from his post today.
"As desired by the Congress President I have sent my resignation," he wrote on Twitter with a copy of his letter addressed to Sonia Gandhi.
As desired by the Congress President I have sent my resignation … pic.twitter.com/Xq2Ne1SyjJ— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) March 16, 2022
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had yesterday tweeted that the resignations were sought to "facilitate the reorganisation" of the state Congress units.
"Congress President, Smt. Sonia Gandhi has asked the PCC Presidents of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa & Manipur to put in their resignations in order to facilitate reorganisation of PCC's," he said.
Congress President, Smt. Sonia Gandhi has asked the PCC Presidents of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa & Manipur to put in their resignations in order to facilitate reorganisation of PCC's.— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) March 15, 2022
Mr Sidhu, in his first interaction with the media following the party's defeat, had drawn flak for praising the people of Punjab for making an "excellent" decision to usher change by bringing the Aam Aadmi Party to power.
When asked how he can say that being the Congress president, he had asserted that the people have chosen change and they are never wrong. "The voice of the people is the voice of God. We should understand with humility and bow to it," he said.
The Congress, which was initially seen as a major contender in what was supposed to be a fierce multi-cornered fight in the state assembly elections, suffered a drubbing at the hands of AAP which posted a massive victory winning 92 of the total 117 assembly seats. The grand old party saw a sharp decline in its vote share compared to the 2017 elections, with even the Congress Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi losing both the seats he contested.
Mr Sidhu himself lost the Amritsar East seat to Jeevanjyot Kaur of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) by a margin of over 6,000 votes. While he polled 32,929 votes, Ms Kaur received 39,520 votes.
Among a number of factors, the party's poll defeat is also being attributed to months of infighting where Mr Sidhu directly clashed with former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh leading to the latter's unceremonious removal and appointment of Mr Channi as the Chief Minister just months before the polls.
While the Congress blamed the poll defeat on anti-incumbency during Captain Singh's 4.5 years as the state's top executive, the rebel Congress veteran lashed out at the top leadership and said they "will never learn".
"The @INCIndia leadership will never learn!
Who is responsible for the humiliating defeat of Congress in UP? What about Manipur, Goa, Uttrakhand?
The answer is written in BOLD LETTERS on the wall but as always I presume they will avoid reading it," Captain Singh had tweeted.
The defeat has again triggered friction within the Punjab Congress. Senior leader Sunil Jakhar on Monday blamed the party's crushing defeat in the state on the choice of Charanjit Singh Channi, saying that the Chief Minister had been caught with his "hand in the till" when he was brought in to fight the perception of corruption.
"I do not want them to compound this mistake again. The way he was built up as a hero - a guy who was caught with his hand in the till. For a leader you need chaal, chalan, charitra (good conduct, integrity, character). There is nothing which inspires confidence in him. You want to build him as a hero, a mascot? I'm sorry, I don't accept him," Mr Jakhar told NDTV, blasting the outgoing Chief Minister in an exclusive interview.
"The Congress worker in Punjab deserves better," he added.
In addition to Punjab, Congress failed to put up a decent fight against rival BJP in Goa, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.