Nearly a month after he was relieved of two key portfolios by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh citing non-performance, Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu is yet to take charge of his new assignment.
Sidhu was divested of the local government and tourism and cultural affairs departments in a cabinet reshuffle on June 6 and allotted him the power and new and renewable energy portfolio. In an apparent snub, Sidhu was also left out of the consultative groups formed by the CM two days after the cabinet reshuffle to accelerate the implementation of the government’s flagship programmes.
Sidhu had then approached Congress president Rahul Gandhi and “apprised him of the situation” besides handing over a letter to him. He had also shared a picture with Gandhi, party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel on his Twitter handle and Facebook page on June 10.
With Gandhi publicly announcing his resignation from the post of Congress president Wednesday, the development may cast a shadow on Sidhu’s prospects.
Sidhu, who was hoping that the high command would intervene, has maintained a silence on social media. He has not been in touch with anyone. Last week he was spotted at Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu and Kashmir.
Meanwhile, Amarinder is yet to take over his department as according to sources the CM would have to seek the approval of Governor for that.
The Congress had deputed party veteran Ahmed Patel to resolve the issues between Sidhu and Punjab CM. Amarinder had met Patel during his visit to Delhi last month. It was learnt that Amarinder told Patel about Sidhu’s non performance. The CM. It was learnt, told Patel that he had to change Sidhu’s portfolio as the Congress trailed in urban areas in the Lok Sabha election. The Congress, however, at that time had described the meeting as a “courtesy call”.
As the stalemate continues, incumbent Local Bodies Minister Brahm Mohindra is likely to meet Patel in Delhi Thursday with a dossier on Sidhu’s performance. Mohindra has already ordered the review of One Time Settlement Policy for regularisation of encroachments formulated by Sidhu on the plea that the it was a failure as it did not witness many takers.
Sources said efforts were being made by the state government to take the issue to a logical conclusion. They said the CM has not yet taken a decision to take disciplinary action against Sidhu although he was of the opinion that either the minister should take charge or relinquish it.
Incidentally, on July 1, Amarinder had strongly condemned the sharing of a morphed picture of Sidhu on social media platforms. He had also urged people to refrain from sharing the photo that was uploded by the Pakistan-based pro-Khalistan leader and member of Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee Gopal Singh Chawla.
The Indian Youth Congress, meanwhile, has come out in support of Sidhu. “Shri @sherryontopp has always been a messenger of peace. In every walk of his life, he has embraced peace and harmony with open arms. He is a true son of the soil, having represented the country with pride across the globe. We condemn any attempts to tarnish his image,” the IYC said in a tweet on its official handle Wednesday