Five days after Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh stripped Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu of his key portfolio, Sidhu met AICC president Rahul Gandhi and his sister, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, in Delhi on Monday morning. Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel was also a part of the meeting.
Sources close to Sidhu said he is learnt to have apprised the Congress president of the situation in Punjab post the Chief Minister’s decision divest him of the Local Bodies Department after blaming him of not handling his department well, and in turn impacting Congress’s performance in the urban areas in the Lok Sabha polls. The added that Sidhu was “very happy” after the meeting. Sidhu tweeted a picture, tagging Rahul, Priyanka, Patel and PPCC president Sunil Kumar Jakhar.
He tweeted, “Met the Congress President, handed him my letter, appraised him of the situation!” After his tweet, he went incommunicado. All efforts to reach him failed as his aides said he would not speak to the media.
Met the congress President, handed him my letter, appraised him of the situation ! pic.twitter.com/ZcLW0rr8r3
— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) June 10, 2019
Sidhu, according to sources, was given a patient hearing, and after the meeting, Rahul Gandhi’s office has established connection with Chief Minister’s office on the issue.
Even after five days getting the Power Department, Sidhu has not yet assumed charge. It is learnt that he handed over a dossier to the high-command during his hour-long meeting Monday morning. The dossier comprised of his department’s report card along with his achievements as the minister.
Sources also said he has compared his department’s report card with other departments, especially Excise and Sand Mining. They added that Sidhu stated that he had suggested ways for these to departments to earn revenue for the state, but both failed miserably.
While Excise could not meet its targets, the Mining department has not been able to auction mines during last financial year causing a loss to the state exchequer. The Excise department is under the Chief Minister himself and the Sand Mining department is under Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria.
The meeting is being viewed as a significant development in the light that Rahul has not been inclined to meet many leaders after announcing his desire to step down as Congress chief. However, soon after coming from Wayanad, he met Sidhu in a meeting coordinated by Priyanka. A few ministers, who had also lost their departments, said Monday’s meeting has given them hope that their departments too may be restored.
Congress’ star campaigner, Sidhu was removed from Local Bodies and Tourism and Cultural Affairs department by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in Thursday, soon after he stayed away from Cabinet meeting and addressed a parallel press conference. Along with him, departments of 12 other ministers were also rejigged. Amarinder is currently on a holiday in Himachal Pradesh.