Sidhu and Amarinder Singh have been at loggerheads over several issues. Their differences came to fore after the Chief Minister criticised Sidhu's friendship and hug with the Pakistani Army Chief during the swearing-in ceremony of new Imran Khan government in August last year.
Senior Congress leader and Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu has hit back at Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for blaming him for the party’s loss in Bathinda against Shiromani Akali Dal candidate Harsimrat Kaur Badal. Sidhu on Thursday said that he was being unfairly singled out in the name of poor performance of his Local Bodies department. Without naming anyone, Sidhu said that a group of eight or nine people were repeatedly targetting him instead of taking collective responsibility for the failure.
“Instead of collective responsibility, out of 50 departments, only mine has been commented upon. Why? I can’t answer. But it doesn’t mean I will do the same. I didn’t say anything before. I won’t say anything now,” Sidhu told reporters at his residence in Chandigarh. Sidhu also noted that he had not spoken a word against the Congress leaders and ministers who have blamed him for Bathinda loss, Amritsar rail tragedy and Kartarpur Sahib corridor controversy.
“He (Amarinder Singh) can take any decision and I will follow that,” the minister added.
The remarks come in the backdrop of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s statement that Sidhu had not been able to handle his department and he will raise the matter with the party leadership. According to Singh, the Congress has a strong voter base in urban areas but the party’s performance was below average in the general elections because Sidhu’s department failed to deliver.
“I intend to change Sidhu’s portfolio for his inept handling of his department,” the Chief Minister has said last week.
Singh had also said that Sidhu’s remarks on the sacrilege issue cost the party in Bathinda where SAD’s Harsimrat Kaur Badal defeated ruling Congress’ Amrinder Singh Raja Warring by a thin margin of 21,000 votes. Just a day before the polling on May 12, Sidhu had raised questions on the probe into the desecration of religious texts in 2015.
Referring to the Bathinda loss, Sidhu said that the CM had also fought and lost from Lambi by 25,000 votes. “His son Raninder lost in Bathinda by 1.20 lakh votes. Now Sidhu is responsible,” he said. He also alleged that Singh was bypassing him while making new appointments in his department. The minister noted that the Chief Minister appointed Mayors in his department without consulting him.
“He (Amarinder Singh) can do anything. We cannot question him. We have to do what he says. Every IAS officer is also appointed by him. He could have just called me and questioned me on anything. I would have given a reply,” Sidhu said.
Sidhu and Amarinder Singh have been at loggerheads over several issues. Their differences came to fore after the Chief Minister criticised Sidhu’s friendship and hug with the Pakistani Army Chief during the swearing-in ceremony of new Imran Khan government in August last year.