‘Power’ is the latest buzzword in Punjab as it inches closer towards the Assembly election. Be it political or electrical, the Punjab unit of the Congress party has been having a tough time steering both. While the Gandhi scions Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are trying their best to end the ongoing ‘power’ (political) crisis by brokering peace among feuding factions in its Punjab unit, the Congress government led by Captain Amarinder Singh in the state has been struggling to provide uninterrupted ‘power’ (electricity) to its people.
For the last few weeks, Punjab has been reeling under unprecedented power shortage amid the sweltering summer heat. As per reports, the daily power demand in Punjab has exceeded 14,500 MW in a few days. Due to this, the state electricity supplier PSPCL (Punjab State Power Corporation Limited) has been forced to cut power supplies and impose restrictions on the industries. The people in Punjab are facing problems due to alleged irregularities in the power supply in the state and have come out in protest against this, blocking roads.
Many areas in Mohali faced cuts of over 14 hours since the last 24 hours. Patiala and Bhatinda had power cuts for over 7 hours while parts of Kapurthala, Tarn Taran, Ferozepur, Muktsar and Ludhiana and power outage between 6 to 12 hours.
To come out of the quandary, the Punjab government has limited the power supply to rural areas. Moreover, in its desperation to bridge the huge gap in demand and supply of power, industries located in the Central Zone and the North Zone of the state have been directed to shut down their units compulsorily for 48 hours from 2 pm today. Industrial units will resume operations only after 2 pm on Saturday.
This is not all, the government offices in the state are also in a critical state due to the power shortage. The government offices have been directed to work from 8 in the morning till 2 in the afternoon to save electricity.
It was reported that the gap between demand and supply had reached almost 1500 MW on July 1.
Meanwhile, the disgruntled Navjot Singh Sidhu, the Punjab Congress’ rebel leader took to Twitter on Friday to give a piece of advice to Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, with whom Sidhu has been in loggerheads for quite some time now, on how to deal with the power crisis in the state.
In a long thread of Tweets, Sidhu laid down directions on how CM Amarinder Singh could get the state out of the power crisis: “Truth of Power Costs, Cuts, Power Purchase Agreements & How to give Free & 24 hour Power to the People of Punjab:- 1. There is No need for Power-Cuts in Punjab or for the Chief Minister to regulate office timings or AC use of the Common People … If we Act in the right direction,” Sidhu wrote in the first of his nine Tweets.
Truth of Power Costs, Cuts, Power Purchase Agreements & How to give Free & 24 hour Power to the People of Punjab:- 1. There is No need for Power-Cuts in Punjab or for the Chief Minister to regulate office timings or AC use of the Common People … If we Act in the right direction— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) July 2, 2021
Political crisis in Punjab Congress
Meanwhile, speaking about the ‘power’ crisis in the political front, it was reported that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is believed to have played the role of a crisis manager in making possible the meeting between party leaders Rahul Gandhi and Navjot Singh Sidhu. Though the Congress leaders are tight-lipped about what transpired in the 45-minute meeting between the Gandhi scion’s and Sidhu, only time will tell whether the brother-sister duo has managed to resolve the dragging impasse and strike a truce between Navjot Singh Sidhu and Amarinder Singh ahead of the upcoming crucial Punjab assembly polls.
However, reports suggest that nothing is right still within the Congress in Punjab where the two factions have indulged in poster wars. Days after ‘Sidhu is missing’ posters popped up in Amritsar, separate posters of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu have surfaced in Patiala and Amritsar in the run-up to the 2022 assembly elections in the state.
While posters of Navjot Singh Sidhu emerged in Patiala which is Captain Amarinder Singh’s constituency, the CM’s posters have surfaced in Amritsar East, which is the constituency of Sidhu.
Committee formed to address the grievances of Punjab leaders
Former minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and Jalandhar Cant MLA Pargat Singh have waged a war against Amarinder Singh in the 2015 sacrilege case. A group led by the duo has also demanded a change in the state leadership.
This forced the AICC to constitute a committee to address the grievances of the Punjab leaders. The panel headed by senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge met at a party war room at GRG road to discuss mitigating the crisis. Kharge informed that the committee which comprises himself, Congress’ Punjab in-charge Harish Rawat and former MP JP Aggarwal will submit its report in three or four days on the matter.
However, according to reports, the committee has dismissed the idea of removing Captain Amarinder Singh and has instead recommended revamping the cabinet in the state and accommodating Siddhu suitably in the govt. Reportedly he may be made the Deputy Chief Minister in the Punjab government. A final decision in the matter will be taken by party president Sonia Gandhi.