Chandigarh: Unhappy over the first expansion of Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi’s Cabinet, allocation of portfolios and appointments on crucial posts, including the Advocate General, state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu on Tuesday resigned from his post after remaining at the helm for 71 days.
As his decision pushed the state Congress into deeper crisis, Sidhu, however, maintained that he would not be leaving the party. He announced his resignation on his Twitter handle in less than an hour after Channi announced allocation of portfolios to his Cabinet colleagues. In a letter to party President Sonia Gandhi, Sidhu wrote: “The collapse of a man’s character stems from the compromise corner, I can never compromise on Punjab’s future and the agenda for the welfare of Punjab.
“Therefore, I hereby resign as the President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. Will continue to serve the Congress.” It is learnt that Sidhu was upset over the non-inclusion of the MLAs of his choice in the expanded Cabinet and the appointment of new Advocate General, A.P.S. Deol, who was counsel of former Director General of Police Sumedh Singh Saini, who is being investigated for his alleged role in the killing of two Sikh protesters in 2015 when the SAD-BJP combine was in power.
Missing not an opportunity to take a jibe over the resignation of Sidhu, former two-time Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, without naming him, described him as an unstable man. “I told you so… he is not a stable man and not fit for the border state of Punjab,” Amarinder Singh said in a tweet before heading to a two-day visit to the national capital with speculation rife that he is likely to meet the BJP’s top leadership like Union Home Minister Amit Shah and President J.P. Nadda.
Since his resignation as the Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh has been targeting Sidhu by saying publically that he would fight his elevation to the chief ministership tooth and nail, and is ready to make any sacrifice to save the country from such a “dangerous man”. “He (Sidhu) is dangerous for the state,” said the former Chief Minister in a series of media interviews last week.
Over Sidhu’s resignation, sources in the party said he was disappointed with Rana Gurjit Singh’s re-entry into the Cabinet despite his “tainted” past. Gurjit Singh was a minister in the Amarinder government but resigned after 10 months for his alleged links with the sand mining mafia. Six Congress legislators had written to Sidhu, expressing “resentment” against the decision to induct the induction of Rana Gurjit till he was absolved of the charges.
It is learnt that Sidhu was not comfortable with the appointment of Sukhjinder Randhawa, who was among the frontrunners for the Chief Minister’s post, as the Deputy Chief Minister. Also, he was upset over the re-induction of Bharat Bhushan Ashu. Also the allocation of the Home Department to Randhawa has not gone well with Sidhu, said a party leader, who wish not to be named.
Sidhu had been saying the Home portfolio should be kept by the Chief Minister as the previous incumbents were following. Amidst the political crisis, Channi told the media here that he was not aware why Sidhu had quit but added that he had “complete faith” in the leader.