Navjot Sidhu loses key portfolio in tussle with Punjab CM, gets a face-saver
This is the second time the state local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu has not been present during an official meeting chaired by Amarinder Singh as speculations about a change in his portfolio swirled.Updated: Jun 06, 2019 19:59 IST
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday carried out a major reshuffle of portfolios for most ministers including Navjot Singh Sidhu. The change, which cost Sidhu the Local Bodies, Tourism and Culture ministries, had been in the works for some time. Sidhu has been assigned the power ministry.
It was announced hours after Sidhu skipped the cabinet meeting and hurled darts at his boss from a Press conference. Capt Singh’s decision to strip him of the local bodies department 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 on his responsibilities. 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.
Just minutes before the chief minister Singh advised the Governor to carry out changes in his team, Sidhu had told reporters that he was only answerable to the people of Punjab and “I cannot be taken for granted”.
Thursday’s cabinet meeting that Navjot Singh Sidhu skipped was the second one chaired by Amarinder Singh that he had given a miss. Sidhu’s wife, Navjot Kaur Sidhu, had, however, blamed the lack of an invite to explain her husband’s absence from the meeting of Punjab Congress legislators, cabinet ministers and newly elected MPs on May 30 .
In the past, the chief minister had blamed Sidhu’s remarks on Pakistan and his “inept” handling of local bodies department for the party’s poor performance in urban areas, announcing that he intended to change the minister’s portfolio.
Amarinder Singh had also taken his cabinet colleague to task over his “friendly-match” remark during an election rally in Bathinda and questioned his performance as local bodies minister.
Navjot Singh Sidhu accused Amarinder Singh of unfairly “singling” him out for the poor show of the Congress in some urban areas by raising questions about his department’s performance.
He has been at loggerheads with the chief minister ever since his wife Navjot Kaur was denied a ticket for the April-May Lok Sabha elections.
First Published: Jun 06, 2019 15:20 IST