Chandigarh: Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu officially resigned from the Punjab Cabinet on Sunday after a public spat with chief minister Capt. Amarinder Singh that has gone on for months.
The former cricketer took to Twitter to announce his resignation from the state Cabinet. He also posted his hand-written resignation letter.
Mr Sidhu, who has been at loggerheads with Capt. Singh, was stripped of key portfolios in the Cabinet reshuffle in June. The chief minister had changed Mr Sidhu’s portfolio from local bodies, tourism and culture ministries to ministry of power and renewable energy about a month ago. Mr Sidhu did not take charge of his new ministry after the reshuffle.
The resignation letter, which is addressed to AICC chief, is dated June 10 — four days after his portfolio was changed, and when he had met then Congress president Rahul Gandhi, AICC general secretary Priyanka Vadra and party veteran Ahmed Patel.
After the meeting, and amid his rift with Capt. Singh, Mr Sidhu had tweeted pictures with the Gandhis. “Met the Congress president, handed him my letter, appraised him of the situation,” he wrote.
On June 29, Ahmed Patel had to intervene in the matter. He also came to Chandigarh to resolve the issue but couldn’t do much. Capt. Singh allegedly sent three ministers to Mr Patel who spoke of “Sidhu’s wrongdoings”. In his resignation letter, Mr Sidhu has not cited any reason.
The tension between Capt. Singh and Mr Sidhu had come out in the open last month when the chief minister blamed him for “inept handling” of the local government department, claiming that it resulted in the Congress’ “poor performance” in urban areas in the Lok Sabha polls.
The chief minister said that the urban vote has been the backbone of the Congress in Punjab, but Mr Sidhu’s “failure” in carrying out any development work impacted the party.
Mr Sidhu was in Mr Gandhi’s star campaign committee and campaigned throughout the country for the Congress.
In his tweet on Sunday Mr Sidhu said that will be sending his resignation to the Punjab CM, indicating that it hasn’t been sent till then.
Mr Sidhu’s announcement to quit came a day after Dinesh Bassi, a known Sidhu detractor from Amritsar, was appointed Amritsar Improvement Trust chief, creating a parallel power centre in the area. Mr Sidhu is the MLA from Amritsar East.
During the Lok Sabha polls Mr Sidhu’s wife, Navjot Kaur, had said that it was the Punjab chief minister who did not want her to contest the Lok Sabha elections.
Capt. Singh reportedly kept Mr Sidhu out of crucial consultative groups that were announced to review the progress of the state government’s flagship programs and schemes.
Reacting to Mr Sidhu’s resignation, National Conference’s Omar Abdullah tweeted, “The one state where the Congress is well placed and even here they can’t help themselves. Oh to be in the BJP right now with the principal Opposition party imploding all around them (sic)”