Navjot Singh Sidhu has resigned as Punjab Congress chief, delivering a big shock to the Gandhis, who may have hoped that changing Chief Ministers would help end the turmoil in the state before elections early next year.
The cricketer-turned-politician tweeted a resignation letter that hinted at his unhappiness at the ongoing changes to the Punjab cabinet. “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. I will continue to serve the Congress,” Navjot Sidhu, 57, wrote in his letter to Sonia Gandhi, which he posted on social media. He had taken charge of the party in Punjab in July.
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Barely days, after Charanjit Singh Channi took over as the Punjab CM and on a day portfolio were given to members of the new state Cabinet, 57-year-old Sidhu’s resignation came as a jolt to the party, with the Assembly elections just less than five months away. At the time he switched over to the Congress from the BJP before the 2017 Punjab Assembly polls, Sidhu had said he is a “born Congressman”, who came back to his roots.
Reaction from Opposition parties in Punjab
From calling Navjot Singh Sidhu a “misguided missile” to accusing him of not being able to digest a Scheduled Caste CM, the opposition parties in Punjab had a field day attacking him and the Congress after he resigned as the state Congress chief.
“This shows that Navjot Singh Sidhu is against Dalits. One poor son was made chief minister. This, Sidhu could not bear. It is very sad,” AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj told reporters in Delhi.
“Complete and absolute anarchy in Punjab Congress. How can the people of Punjab expect these selfish leaders to give a stable, progressive and inclusive administration? How can these people be trusted with a state which has 550 km border with Pakistan?,” asked AAP Punjab co-in-charge and Delhi MLA Raghav Chadha in a tweet.
Chadha also tweeted that he had, earlier in the day in a press conference, questioned Sidhu on “tainted” MLA Rana Gurjit Singh’s induction in the Cabinet and the appointment of APS Deol as the Advocate General of the state.
Later, Chadha said that Punjab was feeling ashamed after the resignation of ‘Sardar’ Navjot Singh Sidhu. “Punjab government has been reduced to a bad joke. The biggest losers in this fight for power among Congress leaders are the people of Punjab,” he said. He lost no opportunity to push AAP as the only viable alternative to Congress and the only party which could give Punjab a stable government. “I think the time has come that we should also pray to God that such unstable people who have made the state government and Congress a joke should be discarded and AAP be chosen,” he said.
AAP state president and Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann said Congress leaders had crossed all limits in their lust for power and this was exemplified in the resignation of Navjot Singh Sidhu.
“Never before has Punjab been insulted in the eyes of the nation as has been done by these Congress leaders in the past few days,” he said.
AAP MLA from Sunam, Aman Arora, said: “Capt Amarinder Singh is said to be meeting BJP leaders in Delhi, while Navjot Singh Sidhu has resigned as state president, therefore I feel that the name of Indian National Congress should be changed to Indian National Circus.”
SAD president, Sukhbir Singh Badal called Sidhu a ‘misguided missile’.
“I have said this for long. First, this missile hit Capt Amarinder Singh and now it has hit the Congress party. This is because Sidhu is full of self-interest. In my view, he should just leave everything and go to Mumbai,” said Sukhbir.
BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh said that Sidhu could not digest the appointment of a CM from the SC community and in his greed for the CM’s chair he has resigned.
“The greed for power and pride has resulted in this. Sidhu should learn to bend. You (Congress) did not make any Chief Minister from the SC community but because we put the pressure you made one. But you did not give him the respect that he deserves,” said Chugh.
The BJP leader added that Sidhu wants to do everything himself as a super CM and decide on the names of ministers, the portfolios they should be given, and the officials that should be appointed to key posts.
“Again and again, the CM was humiliated. He was shown being led by hand at religious places. Where is the 18-point agenda of Congress and justice for the Bargari victims? This is a border state. This is not comedy circus,” Chugh added.