Chandigarh | Hours after Navjot Singh Sidhu sent his resignation from Punjab Cabinet to the chief minister, Amarinder Singh said the cricketer-turned-politician should have taken over the charge of his new department like other ministers whose portfolios had been reshuffled.
On Sidhu submitting his resignation to him a day after going public with his decision, Singh, who was in Delhi on Monday, told reporters outside Parliament he was yet to go through the contents of Sidhu’s letter, which is not public yet, and would do so once he returns to Chandigarh.
Asked if it was embarrassing for his government that differences between him and Sidhu were playing out in the public, the chief minister stressed he had no issues with him.
“No, it is not embarrassing for the government. Look, there has to be some discipline in the organisation. After seeing the performance of our ministers, I have shifted them around where I thought somebody is good in a particular job, I have given him that job”.
Sidhu’s resignation letter was addressed to Rahul Gandhi, the Congress president then. It was dated June 10, just four days after Sidhu’s portfolio was changed.
On Sidhu being allocated the power department, the chief minister said, “I thought power is an important thing for Punjab, one of our most important thing, so I gave it to Sidhu, but he did not want it. So I said once a decision has been taken, you can’t say I will take this and I will not take that.
“It’s like some General saying I am not going to get posted to Ladakh, send me to Manipur. How can you say this? You have to do what you are told to do,” the 77-year-old two-time chief minister said firmly.
“How come 12 other ministers have taken over job (charge of their new portfolios),” he said.
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.
Portfolios of several other ministers too had been changed in the reshuffle exercise.
Asked if he would be happy now since he had got rid of Sidhu, with whom he has been at loggerheads, Singh quipped, “Why should I be happy, I am not happy about anybody going”.
When asked what was the fight about between them, Singh said, “I have no fight with him. You can ask him.
I have no issues with him, he replied when asked if he had made any attempt at reconciliation.
He stressed that Sidhu should have taken over the charge of power department first and if later on, he felt he wanted some other portfolio that could have been considered in future.
The chief minister evaded a reply when asked if he made a mistake by inducting Sidhu into his cabinet.
Replying to a question on Sidhu submitting his resignation to Gandhi, Singh felt that there was no harm in the minister sending his papers to the then Congress president.
“After all Congress president is the person who decides who should be in the cabinet including in my cabinet,” he said.
The chief minister clarified he did not oppose the Lok Sabha candidature of Sidhu’s wife Navjot Kaur and had suggested she should contest from Bathinda, which the couple rejected.
Sidhu, a former BJP leader, had joined the Congress ahead of the 2017 Punjab assembly polls.
Singh said he made a courtesy call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi on Monday. He said he took the opportunity to discuss the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak Dev ji.
The prime minister confirmed his participation in the mega event and assured of help to make the programme a grand success, befitting the historic occasion, he said.