Captain Amrinder blames Navjot Singh Sidhu and his bonhomie with Pakistan for not winning several seats in Punjab, asks party high command to choose between either of them

After securing a good performance for the party in Punjab even when it struggled all across the country, Captain Amrinder Singh has lashed out at Navjot Singh Sidhu. Blaming Sidhu for not being able to perform well in urban areas of Punjab, Chief Minister Captain Amrinder criticised Sidhu and has also reportedly asked the party high command to choose between either of them.

Amrinder reportedly believes that Sidhu’s bonhomie with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and his stance on Pulwama terror attacks has caused the party dearly.

While accepting that he failed to accomplish slogan of “Mission 13” as the party won just eight out of 13 Lok Sabha seats, the chief minister blamed the local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu for the ones it lost. On his “perform or perish” diktat to ministers and MLAs before polls, he said it remains to be seen who are the non-performers. “It was not a veiled threat made by party before elections. The performance of all ministers would be reviewed,” he said.

But his report card on Sidhu was ready. “We lost the Bathinda seat due to his ill-timed statement. Sidhu has not been able to handle his department. We have not done well in urban seats such as Sangrur, Bathinda and Hoshiarpur as the local government department headed by him did not do any development work. He is a non-performer. I will take up the issue with the high command once things settle down,” he added.

When asked if it was not the “Modi wave” that led to party’s loss in urban areas, Amarinder said it remains to be worked out if it was due to Modi factor or Sidhu’s “non-performance”. On urban seats where Congress did well, Amarinder credited his government’s performance.

Replying to a question on whether Sidhu’s alleged proximity with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had hurt Congress prospects in the country, Amarinder said Sidhu’s “yari and jhappi” (friendship and hugs) with Pakistani army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa would not be tolerated, especially by army personnel, who were being killed by ISI-backed terrorists while he was going hugging their leaders.

The Congress trailed in seats represented by seven out of 17 ministers. Sangrur is represented by minister Vijay Inder Singla, Bathinda by Manpreet Badal and Hoshiarpur by Sunder Sham Arora. The party also lost on seats of four other ministers — Aruna Chaudhary’s Dinanagar, Razia Sultana’s Malerkotla, Om Prakash Soni’s Amritsar Central and Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi’s seat Gur Har Sahai. Congress candidate Gurjit Aujla, who won from Amritsar, has secured a lead from Sidhu’s Amritsar East seat. But it was Sidhu alone that Amarinder gunned for.

Sidhu, who was in Delhi, refused to comment on Amarinder’s remarks. Late in the evening, the Congress star campaigner, who did over 90 rallies across the country in a month’s time, tweeted: “I take a bow to the mandate of people of India…Voice of people is voice of God. Congratulations to the BJP.”