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‘Maverick’ Sidhu Has Roiled Punjab Cong Earlier Too. Here’s a Look at His Past Punches

News18 logo News18 28-09-2021 News Desk
‘Maverick’ Sidhu Has Roiled Punjab Cong Earlier Too. Here’s a Look at His Past Punches © Provided by News18 ‘Maverick’ Sidhu Has Roiled Punjab Cong Earlier Too. Here’s a Look at His Past Punches

In a development that shocked the Congress high command and came as a big blow, Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu on Tuesday quit from his post amid reports of a rift with new chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi over his Cabinet. The development comes just days after Amarinder Singh was replaced as chief minister.

Speaking to News18 earlier, a Punjab-based journalist who had tracked him for years, had called him temperamental. “He can go to any extreme to maintain a relationship and the very next moment cut himself off at slightest provocation. Temperamental and sort of maverick,” the journalist had said.

Also Read:Sidhu Quits as Punjab Congress Chief Amid Dispute Over Channi Cabinet, Says ‘Can’t Compromise With State’s Future’

While the resignation, months before the Punjab election, has stunned the Congress, this is not the first time Sidhu has ruffled feathers in the party.

2021: Resignation that Baffled Gandhis

Navjot Sidhu wrote in a resignation letter to Sonia Gandhi, which he also posted on social media later. “The collapse of a man’s character stems from the compromise corner. I can never compromise on Punjab’s future and the agenda for the welfare of Punjab. Therefore, I hereby resign as the President of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. I will continue to serve the Congress,” the resignation reads.

Sources told News18 that trouble started brewing on Sunday as a few hours before the new ministers were to take oath, some MLAs wrote to Sidhu, saying the “tainted” Rana Gurjeet Singh should not be made minister since he faced accusations of corruption in sand mining. Gurjeet Singh, in fact, was removed from the cabinet by then chief minister Amarinder Singh over the corruption allegations.

Sidhu, however, failed to stop Gurjeet Singh’s elevation as minister again. He is also believed to be upset with some other ministerial appointments made by Channi, like that of Aruna Chaudhary who is the CM’s relative and faces anti-incumbency in her constituency Dinanagar. Sidhu had instead been pitching for a berth to Punjab Congress Committee Scheduled Caste (SC) department head Raj Kunar Chhabewal.

Also Read:Deja Vu for Congress as Punjab Cabinet Formation Leads to Round 1 of Channi vs Sidhu. Is Fresh Trouble on Cards?

2021: Twitter Storm After Chai

While Sidhu and Amarinder Singh have been at loggerheads with each other for a while, in July, Sidhu’s tweets left many in the Congress baffled when attacked Singh over the 2015 Kotkapura firing, saying the Punjab and Haryana High court’s order to form a new SIT to probe the incident was accepted by the state government to “deflect” people’s attention. “Nefarious intentions are evident, No High Court stopped you in 4-1/2 yrs ! When DGP/CPS appointments are set aside, orders are challenged in Higher Courts in matter of hours. Now, first you attack the High Court, than from backdoor accept same orders to deflect People’s attention,” Sidhu had alleged in a tweet, just hours after attending a seemingly cordial tea meeting with Singh.

2020: When Tension Appeared to Have Eased

Both the leaders met on November 25 last year over a lunch, triggering speculation that Sidhu may be re-inducted into the state cabinet. A media adviser to the Chief Minister had then said that both leaders spent an hour together at Singh’s residence in Punjab and shared thoughts on various issues. At that time, it was thought that the tensions between both leaders appeared to have eased when the Chief Minister praised the Amritsar MLA for the way he spoke in the assembly after the Congress government had moved a resolution and brought bills against the farm laws last month.

2019: When Singh Slammed ‘Ambitious’ Sidhu

Sidhu’s portfolio was changed from the Local Bodies’ to the Ministry of Power and Renewable Energy in 2019 but he did not assume charge of his new department. Singh had cited “inept” handling of local bodies department by Sidhu, which led to the Congress’s poor performance in urban areas, as the reason behind taking away the role. Even the state unit also did not give an election ticket to Sidhu’s wife Navjot Kaur.

2019: Blame Game Over LS Polls

Sidhu slammed Singh, claiming that he was singled out for the party’s poor performance in the Lok Sabha polls. The rift became even more evident when reacting to Sidhu’s mannerisms, Singh had said, “Perhaps he is ambitious and wants to be chief minister.”

2017: ‘My Captain is Rahul, Not Amrinder’

When Sidhu joined the Congress in 2017 just ahead of the Punjab assembly election, Singh was apparently not in the favour of it. It became a little evident when Sidhu in November 2018 publicly had said, “My captain is Rahul Gandhi, who is also his (Amarinder’s) captain. Wherever I went, it was with his approval.”

Sidhu’s resignation came on a day when former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh is in Delhi amid buzz that he will meet Home Minister Amit Shah and jump ship to the BJP. Reacting to Sidhu’s quitting, Amarinder tweeted he is not fit for Punjab. “I told you so…he is not a stable man and not fit for the border state of Punjab,” he wrote.

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