Amarinder Singh slams Navjot Sidhu over resignation, says he should've accepted new portfolio instead of shunning work

  • Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned from the Punjab cabinet in the wake of his continued run-ins with the chief minister, who had recently changed his portfolio

  • Amarinder Singh said Sidhu should have accepted his new portfolio instead of shunning work in the middle of the crucial paddy season

  • There has to be some discipline in the government if it is to function effectively, the chief minister added

New Delhi/Chandigarh: Hours after Navjot Singh Sidhu sent his resignation from Punjab Cabinet to the chief minister, Amarinder Singh said if the cricketer-turned politician did not want to do his job, there was nothing he could do about it.

The minister, who was given the power department in June in a reshuffle of the state cabinet, should have accepted his new portfolio instead of shunning work in the middle of the crucial paddy season, Amarinder told reporters in Delhi.

There has to be some discipline in the government if it is to function effectively, the chief minister added.

Sidhu has announced his resignation as Punjab cabinet minister, making public his June 10 resignation letter sent to then Congress president Rahul Gandhi. On Monday, a day after he went public with his decision, he sent the letter to Amarinder.

The former cricketer resigned in the wake of his continued run-ins with the chief minister, who had changed his portfolio from local government to power. Unhappy, Sidhu did not assume charge of the new department.

 Amarinder Singh slams Navjot Sidhu over resignation, says he shouldve accepted new portfolio instead of shunning work

File image of Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh. Twitter/ @capt_amarinder

"If Sidhu doesn't want to do the job, there is nothing I can do about it," Amarinder said, questioning how a soldier can refuse a job assigned by the general.

"I thought power is an important thing for Punjab, one of our most important thing, so I gave it to Sidhu but he did not want it. I said once a decision has been taken, you can't say, 'I will take this and I will not take that'," the chief minister said.

He wondered why Sidhu was the only person unhappy over the change when other ministers have taken charge of their new departments. "How come 12 other ministers have taken over the job?"

Asked if Sidhu made any attempt at reconciliation, the chief minister said there was no need for it.

Asked if he would be happy that Sidhu resigned, Amarinder said, "Why should I be happy, I am not happy about anybody going".

"I do not have any issues with him. If Sidhu has any issue with me, you'll have to ask him about it," he said.

The chief minister evaded a direct reply when asked if he made a mistake by inducting Sidhu, who joined Congress ahead of the 2017 Punjab Assembly election, into his cabinet.

He clarified he did not oppose the Lok Sabha candidature of Sidhu's wife Navjot Kaur and had instead suggested she should contest from Bathinda, which the couple rejected.

Replying to a question on Sidhu sending his resignation to Rahul and not him initially, Amarinder felt there was no harm in the minister doing so. "After all, the Congress president is the person who decides who should be in the cabinet including in my cabinet," he quipped, talking informally to reporters outside Parliament after making a courtesy call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Amarinder said he was yet to go through the contents of Sidhu's letter to him as he was in Delhi and would do so once he returns to Chandigarh.

On a question on Rahul, the chief minister said he would certainly be meeting him. Amarinder said he had called on the prime minister since he had not met him during the latter's second term until now.

He said he also discussed with the prime minister the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Sikhism's founder Guru Nanak Dev. The prime minister confirmed his participation in the mega event and assured of help to make it a success, Amarinder said.

The legacy issue of the Rs 31,000-crore food debt also came up for discussion and the prime minister said he was seized of the matter, he said.

Updated Date: Jul 15, 2019 19:10:53 IST