Captain clips Sidhu’s wings, strips him of local bodies, rejigs portfolios
The Captain’s action came hours after Sidhu skipped the first cabinet meeting post the Lok Sabha elections and instead held a press briefing at his official residence.
Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday divested dissenting minister Navjot Singh Sidhu of local bodies portfolio and gave the same to Brahm Mohindra who is number two in the cabinet.
The Captain’s action came hours after Sidhu skipped the first cabinet meeting post the Lok Sabha elections and instead held a press briefing at his official residence to counter chief minister’s charge that the party had fared poorly in urban areas because of Sidhu’s “non-performance” as the local bodies minister.
The relations between Amarinder Singh and Sidhu had turned sour after the latter publicly and obliquely accused the chief minister of playing a “friendly match” with opposition Badal family on some of the Lok Sabha seats in Punjab.
The CM struck back by stripping Sidhu, who is at third place in the cabinet pecking order, of his plum local bodies portfolio as well as tourism ministry. He has now been entrusted with power and renewable energy departments. Amarinder’s move is a sharp message to Sidhu, who had cited the performance of the Congress in the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections in urban areas, as evidence that he had delivered. It also signals that there were limits to how far Sidhu’s equation with Congress president Rahul Gandhi and sister Priyanka Gandhi could insulate him. Sidhu refused to comment on the development.
Justifying the re-jig, Amarinder said the portfolio reallocation will re-energise his team and bring freshness into the working of the major departments.
Earlier in the day, Sidhu’s official residence, yards away from that of the CM, became the scene of unfolding drama in the party and government as the defiant minister told reporters that he cannot be taken for granted and one should dig out facts than jump to conclusions.