On June 6, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had divested Sidhu of the Local Government and Tourism and Cultural Affairs Departments and allotted him the power and new and renewable energy portfolio.
Days after Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned from the state cabinet, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Saturday accepted his “one-line” resignation. The chief minister has sent the resignation to Governor V P Singh Badnore for formal acceptance, an official spokesperson said here.
Amarinder, who had been indisposed for the last two days, since arrival from Delhi on Wednesday, saw the resignation letter Saturday morning, the spokesperson said.
The letter, however, was just a single sentence tendering Sidhu’s resignation, with no explanation or elaboration, he added.
Punjab chief minister accepted Sidhu’s resignation at a time when there were speculation in the media that the Congress high command intervened in the matter for the resolution of the issue between both the leaders.
The 55-year-old Sidhu, who has been at loggerheads with Amarinder, was stripped off key portfolios in the cabinet reshuffle on June 6. Punjab CM had divested Sidhu of the Local Government and Tourism and Cultural Affairs Departments and allotted him the power and new and renewable energy portfolio.
Notably, apart from Sidhu, the portfolios of other ministers were also changed.
The refusal to assume the charge of the power department by Sidhu for more than a month also came as an “embarrassment” to Congress with opposition parties attacking Amarinder-led regime in the state.
Cricketer-turned-politician took to his Twitter handle on July 14, making public his June 10 resignation letter from the state cabinet addressed to then Congress president Rahul Gandhi, which was sent just four days after his portfolio was changed.
On July 15, Sidhu has sent his resignation letter to Amarinder’s official residence here while CM was in Delhi.
Amarinder on Tuesday in Delhi had said that he would decide on Sidhu’s resignation after going through the contents of the resignation letter once he reached Chandigarh. Chief Minister returned to Chandigarh Wednesday evening.
Earlier this week, Amarinder in Delhi had said if Sidhu did not want to do his job, there was nothing he could do about it.
In the absence of Sidhu, Amarinder has been monitoring the functioning of the power department in the wake of ongoing crucial paddy sowing season and rising power demand during hot and humid weather conditions in the state.
Ever since the portfolio reshuffle exercise, Sidhu and his wife Navjot Kaur have been maintaining a distance from the media.
The tension between Punjab CM and Sidhu had come out in the open in May when Amarinder blamed Sidhu for the “inept handling” of the Local Government Department, claiming that it resulted in “poor performance” of the Congress in urban areas in the Lok Sabha polls.
The cricketer-turned-politician, however, had said his department was being “singled out publicly” while asserting that he could not be taken for granted as he had been a “performer throughout.”
Sidhu had even approached the then Congress president Rahul Gandhi on June 9 and had “apprised him of the situation” besides handing over a letter to him.
Sidhu, a former BJP leader who had joined the Congress just ahead of the 2017 Punjab assembly polls, has been at loggerheads with Amarinder for sometime now.
During Lok Sabha polls, Amarinder had taken umbrage at Sidhu’s “friendly match” jibe during electioneering in Bathinda on May 17. Sidhu had allegedly cornered the Congress government in the state over the issue of the 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 Amarinder. 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,” Amarinder had said.
Earlier also, the tension between Amarinder 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 (Amarinder) also.” Amarinder had also disapproved of Sidhu hugging the Pakistan Army chief during his visit to the neighbouring country.