Punjab CM Channi mollifies former health minister Balbir Sidhu

By, Mohali
Oct 05, 2021 11:42 PM IST

Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi paid a courtesy call to Mohali MLA Balbir Sidhu a week after dropping him from the state cabinet


Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi leaving after meeting former health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu in Mohali. (HT Photo)
Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi leaving after meeting former health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu in Mohali. (HT Photo)

A week after dropping three-time Mohali MLA Balbir Singh Sidhu from the Punjab cabinet, chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi visited his house on Monday night in an apparent attempt to mollify him.

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It is learnt that both Channi and Sidhu, who were having strained relations for the past two decades, decided to burn the hatchet and work together for the state’s development during the three-hour informal meeting.

Seen close to former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, Sidhu was among five ministers who were dropped from the cabinet on September 26 in a rejig after Channi took over the state’s reigns. The same day, the former health minister along with Gurpreet Singh Kangar, who too had been dropped, held a press conference and questioned the move.

Accompanied by finance minister Manpreet Badal and senior Congress leader Harish Chaudhary, Channi went to Sidhu’s house in Phase 7, Mohali, on Monday evening. As it was undergoing renovation, they then went to his brother and Mohali mayor Amarjit Singh Sidhu’s house in Sector 78, where the meeting was held from 9:30pm to 12:30am.

Deputy mayor Kuljeet Singh Bedi said that during the meeting all three leaders told Sidhu that he was an important leader of the party and the Mohali constituency. “They assured him that, whether he is a minister or not, he is an integral part of the government. They all assured him of all cooperation in completing pending projects in his constituency,” he said.

Talking to HT on Tuesday, Sidhu said the CM had made him a courtesy call and “we held discussions for nearly three hours on some issues”. “I am a Congressman and will remain a Congressman till my last breath,” he said.

Channi and Sidhu have been engaged in a turf war for two decades, which first surfaced when the former was the Kharar MC president and latter had contested the assembly elections from Kharar in 2002. The rift only widened with time, according to party insiders.

Since 2007, Sidhu has won the Mohali seat three times in a row, and after the Congress formed the government in 2017, he was awarded with a cabinet berth. His clout kept increasing under Amarinder Singh, and even his brother managed to get elected as the Mohali mayor this year. After Sidhu was dropped from the cabinet, several local Congress leaders including Deepinder Singh Dhillon, Kuljeet Singh Bedi, Amrik Singh Somal and Rajinder Singh Rana had come out in support.

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    Hillary Victor is a Principal Correspondent at Chandigarh. He covers Chandigarh administration, municipal corporation and all political parties.

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