Navjot Singh Sidhu on Tuesday resigned as the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief, plunging the party into a fresh crisis just months ahead of the assembly elections in the state. Sidhu, 57, who announced his resignation shortly after the allocation of portfolios to the members of the new state Cabinet, said he remains with the party.
However, party sources said, Navjot Singh Sidhu's resignation has not been accepted and top leadership has asked state leadership to resolve the matter at their own level first. Following which, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Channi has called a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday at 10.30 am at Punjab Civil Secretariat.
He was appointed the party's state unit president on July 18 amid a bitter power tussle with Amarinder Singh, who stepped down as the CM 10 days back while accusing the party high command of humiliating him.
"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 the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. Will continue to serve the Congress," he said in his letter to Sonia Gandhi.
But speculation in party circles on the reason ranges from his displeasure over the allocation of the home portfolio to Deputy CM Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa to the appointments of the acting police chief and the state advocate general by the new CM.
Rana Gurjit Singh was included in the ministry despite protests by some party leaders over his “tainted” past. He had to resign from the Amarinder Singh ministry over allegations of impropriety in the auction of sand-mining contracts. Sidhu was also said to be unhappy that MLA Kuljit Singh Nagra was denied a berth in the Channi ministry.
Then there was the appointment of A P S Deol as the state’s new Advocate General. As a senior advocate, Deol was a counsel for former Director General of Police Sumedh Singh Saini. Sidhu is learnt to have backed D S Patwalia for the post.
The crisis deepened when one after another four more leaders, taking a cue from the cricketer-turned-politician, too decided to step down. First was Gulzar Inder Chahal who stepped down as Punjab Congress treasurer, followed by Razia Sultana, a part of the new 18-member ministry led by Charanjit Singh Channi, who quit expressing solidarity with the former cricketer.
Next was Yoginder Dhingra who resigned as General Secretary of Punjab Congress, and then was Gautam Seth, the general Secretary (in-charge training) of Punjab Congress.
Soon after Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned as Punjab Congress president on Tuesday, former chief minister Amarinder Singh dubbed it a "drama" and said the cricketer-turned-politician is "unstable" and "not fit" for the border state. "I told you so...he is not a stable man and not fit for the border state of Punjab," Singh tweeted soon after Sidhu posted a letter of his resignation to Sonia Gandhi on his Twitter handle.
"I had been saying all along that this man is unstable and dangerous, and cannot be entrusted with the task of running Punjab," he later said in a statement. Sidhu had also proved to be absolutely incompetent during his stint as a minister in his government," he also said.
Channi, once considered a Sidhu loyalist, claimed he was not aware of his resignation. "I have not received such information,” he told reporters. Asked if Sidhu was upset over the allocation of the home portfolio to Randhawa and some other appointments, he said, “We will sit with Sidhu Saheb and talk to him. He is our president and a good leader.”