Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, who was sulking after being stripped of key portfolios in the Punjab cabinet reshuffle in June, has resigned from the Amarinder Singh-led cabinet. In a hand-written letter dated 10 June and addressed to Rahul Gandhi who was then the president of the party, Sidhu said he was resigning but did not elaborate on the reasons for his decision.
He also tweeted that he will be sending his resignation to Amarinder, however, ANI quoted the chief minister's office as saying that Sidhu's resignation letter had not been received yet. "I hereby resign as Minister from Punjab Cabinet," Sidhu said in the letter.
My letter to the Congress President Shri. Rahul Gandhi Ji, submitted on 10 June 2019. pic.twitter.com/WS3yYwmnPl
— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) July 14, 2019
The resignation comes amid reports regarding his failure to take charge as state power minister, a month after he was divested of the departments of local government, and tourism and cultural affairs.
In an apparent snub, Sidhu, who is the Amritsar East MLA,was also left out of the consultative groups formed by Amarinder on 8 June, two days after the cabinet reshuffle, to accelerate the implementation of the government's flagship programmes.
The cabinet reshuffle was reportedly due to Sidhu's poor performance in the Lok Sabha elections. His absence from an important cabinet meeting on 6 June had fuelled reports of the tiff between him and the chief minister.
Amarinder had blamed Sidhu for "inept handling' of the Local Government departed, which he claimed resulted int the party's poor performance in the urban areas of Punjab during the general elections. Sidhu had hit back at the chief minister, claiming that he was being singled out for the collective failure of the party and had defended his performance.
He had also accused Singh of denying his wife, Navjot Kaur Sidhu, a ticket from Chandigarh constituency.
Congress veteran Ahmed Patel had been entrusted with the task of resolving issues between Sidhu and Singh. Singh had met Patel during his visit to Delhi last month, but the party reportedly described the meeting as a "courtesy call".
The fact that Sidhu waited for over a month before making his resignation letter public indicated that he could have been waiting for reconciliation.
Ever since the portfolio reshuffle exercise, the Punjab minister and his wife Navjot Kaur have been maintaining a distance from the media.
Sidhu had approached Congress president Rahul Gandhi on 9 June and had "apprised him of the situation" besides handing over a letter to him.
He had also shared a picture with Rahul Gandhi, party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi and senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel on his Twitter handle and Facebook page on 10 June. Since then, he had not shared anything on Twitter and Facebook.
Sidhu, a former BJP leader who had joined the Congress just ahead of the 2017 Punjab assembly polls, has been at loggerheads with Singh for sometime now.
Earlier, Singh had taken umbrage at Sidhu's "friendly match" jibe during electioneering in Bathinda on 17 May. Sidhu had allegedly cornered the Congress government in the state over the issue of desecration of religious texts, questioning why no FIR was lodged against the Badals, who ran the previous government in the state.
This had evoked sharp reaction from Singh. Hitting out at Sidhu, the chief minister had said, "If he was a real Congressman, he should have chosen a better time to air his grievances, instead of just ahead of voting in Punjab. He is harming the party with such irresponsible actions. It is not his election but that of the entire Congress," he had said.
"Perhaps he is ambitious and wants to be the chief minister," Singh had said.
Earlier also, the tension between Singh and Sidhu had come out in the public. Last year, Sidhu had said in Hyderabad, "(Congress chief) Rahul Gandhi is my captain...Rahul Gandhi is the captain of the captain (Singh) also."
Singh had earlier disapproved of Sidhu hugging the Pakistan Army chief during his visit to the neighbouring country.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Jul 14, 2019 15:52:16 IST