The infighting in Congress’ Punjab unit is far from over as Navjot Singh Sidhu and Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi stand against each other, making functioning almost impossible. In the midst of never-ending chaos, CM Channi’s government completed a month.

Navjot Singh Sidhu, on the other hand, once again questioned his own party’s government, this time targeting Channi. During a meeting on Sunday, Sidhu pressed Channi for an account of the government's work. The people of Punjab ask the same.

The lowkey Dalit Congress leader Charanjit Singh Channi was made CM of Punjab on September 20, after Captain Amarinder Singh resigned from the top post. The latter had faced multiple revolts from state ministers and MLA’s over the inaction on some major issues like sacrilege incidents and related shootings, drugs menace, power crisis, unfulfilled poll promises and more.

The said issues pertain even during the Channi-Sidhu rule. 

STF report on multi-crore drug haul remains sealed in court, the faulty purchase agreements (PPA) signed by during SAD-BJP regime are still not annulled. 

Shunning major issues, the new government’s eyes stay on strengthening its vote bank.

Also Read: Amarinder danced to tunes of BJP, now Channi following the same line: Harsimrat Badal

STF Report on Drugs 

Just a few months ago Sidhu was criticising then-Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh for failing to act on the STF report and not making it public despite the court's order.

Being critical of Capt Amarinder Singh and his government, Sidhu had accused then CM of taking no action on drugs to protect the Badals and Majithia.

But now the ball is in Channi-Sidhu’s court, but the top brass now claims the matter is in court. Even the leaders like Pargat Singh and Deputy CM OP Soni, who were extremely critical of Capt Amarinder, assert that action would be taken in accordance with top court’s orders.

PPAs stand intact

The power purchase arrangement signed during the Akali-BJP government in Punjab was the key reason for Captain Amarinder Singh's removal. Due to these PPAs, the people of Punjab pay a high electricity price. 

Earlier, Navjot Sidhu had demanded Capt Amaridner’s government to extend the special Assembly session to terminate the power purchase agreements (PPAs) signed with private companies.

Providing a solution to the problem of expensive electricity, Navjot Singh Sidhu had stated: Punjab government must immediately issue directions to PSERC (Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission) in public interest to revise tariff being paid to private power plants making the faulty PPAs null and void. Further calling a five-seven day Vidhan Sabha Session to bring a new legislation for termination of faulty PPAs.

This will help Punjab government give 300 units of free power to all domestic consumers, including general category, decrease domestic tariff to Rs 3 per unit and Rs 5 per unit for industry, along with redressal of all outstanding bills, waiving-off the unjustifiable and exorbitant bills.

Also Read: Punjab govt constitutes SIT to probe allegations of Lakhbir Singh's sister

Now, even after a month of a new government led by Channi and Sidhu, these “faulty” agreements stay intact. 

The action initiated by Captain's administration has also come to a halt. As a result, people are forced to pay high electricity prices, to date.

Focus on 2022 state elections

With a few months left in the upcoming assembly elections, the Punjab government has shifted focus to strengthening the party for 2022 polls. 

Keeping polls in mind, Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi announced to waive pending electricity bills of 53 lakh defaulters, covering -60-70 per cent of the total consumers.

This put a burden of Rs 1,200 crore on the state exchequer.

Further, Punjab Cabinet decided to provide free power to all Rural Water Supply (RWS) schemes. This decision would entail an annual expenditure of Rs.440 crore on the state exchequer. Likewise, the Cabinet also gave nod to reduce the service charges on all RWS schemes by 70% from Rs.166 to Rs. 50 per household per month in the villages.

For urban areas, the Cabinet reduced water usage charges to Rs.50 per month for domestic connections of all categories having plot size above 125 Sq. yards in Municipal Councils/Nagar Panchayats and Municipal Corporations. 

Further, the Cabinet decided to waive off all the outstanding arrears of water supply and sewerage charges for domestic connections. This decision is likely to cost the state exchequer to the tune of nearly Rs.700 crore.

Channi vs Sidhu

A new episode of Navjot Sidhu vs CM Channi began just a day after the latter appointed its cabinet of ministers.

Although the exact nature of the dispute is unknown, there are strong rumours that during a meeting on Sunday, Sidhu, in the presence of observer Harish Chaudhary, asked Channi for an explanation of the government's work. This enraged the CM. According to sources, Channi has even challenged Sidhu to take over as Chief Minister for two months and run the show. According to reports, they even had a heated disagreement.

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