Sulking Sidhu yet to take charge as power minister

Navjot Singh Sidhu (File Photo)

Despite enjoying all perks and privileges as a cabinet minister, Navjot Singh Sidhu has so far not attended a single day in office even a month after being assigned new portfolios by chief minister Amarinder Singh.

He remains incommunicado and has shown no intention to take charge of his office. Sidhu’s salary and perks as a minister remain unchanged. But Sidhu is protesting the decision by the CM to divest him of his earlier cabinet portfolio.

Albeit defunct, Sidhu is presently the Minister of Power and Renewable Energy. Voices seeking his removal from the Cabinet for creating a constitutional crisis are growing by the day. His cabinet colleagues have advised him to either take charge as a minister or quit office to make way for a new face.

Sidhu’s cabinet colleague Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa said Sidhu has extraordinary skills and would contribute meaningfully to his new portfolio. “I would advise him to join the office. If not, he should quit the cabinet,” he said.

Sidhu hasn’t picked any of the two options so far. His resistance comes at a time when the agrarian state of Punjab reels under the sweltering heat and power cuts. In Sidhu’s absence, crucial decisions that could help distribution of power, prevent breakdown and thefts etc, are being overseen by Amarinder Singh. 

The BJP has termed the developments as a ‘constitutional crisis’ seeking the intervention of the Punjab Governor. BJP national secretary Tarun Chug maintained that Sidhu was enjoying all perks, privileges and salary as a minister, but was not performing as one.

The entire controversy has its genesis in the ongoing rift between Sidhu and Amarinder. Sidhu’s statements in the past have embarrassed the party. His decision to go to Pakistan for the swearing-in ceremony of Imran Khan as PM was against Amarinder's advise. Sidhu has been blamed for the loss of the Congress party in certain urban areas. All this and more led to a change of portfolios for Sidhu. The Congress high command is working to resolve the logjam, said sources.

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