Amid his ongoing feud with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu announced his resignation from the state Cabinet on Sunday.
After remaining incommunicado and in a self-imposed political exile for over a month, ever since Amarinder stripped him of his Local Bodies and Tourism and Culture portfolios, Sidhu Sunday tweeted his resignation letter, dated June 10 and addressed to “the AICC president”. Sidhu had met Congress leader Rahul Gandhi that day.
Assigned Power and New & Renewable Energy portfolio in a reshuffle, Sidhu had not assumed charge. His resignation announcement came after a wait of over a month for the Congress high command to intervene. However, it is unclear where the resignation stands as, under the rules, a minister has to mark the same to the CM.
Move ends speculation, shows Captain is in command
The cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu's decision to make public his June 10 resignation from the Cabinet not only brings to an end months of speculation about his future in the ministry, but also proves that Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh is clearly in command. His detractors can no longer hope to expect the high command to meddle in the state affairs. The Chief Minister, who had successfully bucked the BJP wave in the country, calls the shots.
As the Chief Minister’s Office made it clear Sunday that Amarinder had not received any communication from Sidhu regarding this, he issued a second tweet that he would do so soon.
Sources close to Sidhu said he was in the process of vacating his official residence and that he would now be based in Patiala, Amarinder’s hometown. Though Sidhu also belongs to Patiala, he had shifted base to Amritsar after being elected as Amritsar MP on a BJP ticket.
Sidhu had protested against the withdrawal of the Local Bodies and Tourism and Culture Departments from him as Amarinder had hinted that non-performance was the reason behind the move. The CM had stated that the Congress could not do well in cities in Punjab in the Lok Sabha elections as the minister in-charge had failed to perform in urban local bodies. Sidhu had in turn released his report card and argued that the Congress did well in all the major cities. After that, he had gone incommunicado and met Rahul in Delhi.
The animosity between Amarinder and Sidhu goes back to before he joined the Congress, with the CM making clear his opposition to the former cricketer being inducted. While Amarinder continued to sideline Sidhu in the state government, the latter’s star remained ascendant due to his proximity to the high command.
Amarinder had also taken on Sidhu publicly for participating in the oath-taking ceremony of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, and greeting Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa with a warm hug there. Sidhu, in turn, had stolen a march by coming back with an assurance from Pakistan on opening of the Kartarpur Corridor.
The announcement of his resignation ironically came on the day India and Pakistan announced a breakthrough on the corridor.