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CHANDIGARH

Capt, Sidhu meet, hug — and leave without any announcement

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Amif talks of a thaw in the relationship between Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his bete noire and former Cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu, the duo met at the former’s residence on Wednesday.

The much-hyped meeting between the duo remained “inconclusive”, sources said. While an announcement to bring Sidhu back in the mainstream of the party was expected on Wednesday, neither the Chief Minister’s camp nor Sidhu revealed anything after the meeting except the media advisor to CM, Raveen Thukral, tweeting a picture of the duo from the meeting with a caption, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

While there was speculation that Sidhu would be reinducted into Amarinder’s Cabinet as Local Bodies Minister and even as Deputy Chief Minister, or appointed as PPCC chief replacing incumbent Sunil Kumar Jakhar, no announcement was made on Wednesday. Sources said the CM had ruled out his induction as Deputy CM and appointment as PPCC chief. On Wednesday, it is learnt that Sidhu did not accept the CM’s offer of reinduction into the Cabinet. It remains to be seen whether Sidhu accepts the CM’s offer of reinduction into the Cabinet or not in the coming days. If he does, then he will have to accept it before he leaves for campaigning in West Bengal.

Sports Minister and Amarinder’s aide, Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, who was the lone witness to the meeting and even accompanied Sidhu after the meeting, said the meeting took place in a cordial environment.

“Both sat together for 35 minutes and exchanged pleasantries. Both talked about each other’s families and their ties with each other. The meeting was about only the pleasantries. Nothing else was the business. Both laughed together and hugged each other,” Rana Sodhi told The Indian Express after the meeting.

He added that the meeting belied those who have been saying that there were differences between the duo. “They were really cordial with each other.”

The picture of the duo seated next to each other was released but the picture depicted a “gulf” between the duo even as both tried to pose for the camera while hugging each other.

Sidhu tweeted soon after the meeting saying, “Azad raho vicharon se, lekin bandhey raho sanskaron se…taki aas aur vishwas rahey qirdaaron pe (one should be liberated in thoughts but bound by values, so as to lend hope and invoke trust in the character).”
This was the second meeting between Amarinder and Sidhu. Sidhu had stayed away from the wedding celebrations of Amarinder’s granddaughter. During the last meeting too, it was expected that both the leaders would reach a consensus but nothing came of it.

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Party general secretary incharge Harish Rawat has been working on getting both Sidhu and Amarinder on the same page so that Sidhu, who has been pushed to the fringes in his party, should be accommodated. He has been staying away from most of the party functions since July 2019, when he had resigned from the Cabinet.

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