Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu was on Thursday stripped of the key local bodies portfolio amid reports of a rift between him and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. This came hours after he skipped a Cabinet meeting and asserted that he cannot be “taken for granted”.
Sidhu has been given charge of the department of power and energy sources. Amarinder Singh shared the revised list of portfolios of Punjab Cabinet on Twitter on Thursday. “I am confident that each decision they take will be in service to the people of Punjab,” he said.
Sidhu has been at receiving end of Singh’s criticism since the General Election results were out on May 23. The chief minister has said Sidhu’s “damaging remarks” may have led to the party’s defeat in the Bathinda seat. Singh also said Sidhu’s performance should be reviewed. In response, Sidhu alleged a nexus between senior Congress leaders and the Badals of the Shiromani Akali Dal. However, he did not name the chief minister in this alleged network.
“I cannot be taken for granted...with utter humility I say I cannot be taken for granted,” Sidhu said in a Facebook video on Thursday. “I have been a performer throughout in 40 years of my life be it international cricket, or world class commentary with Geoffrey Boycott, TV shows, films, motivational talks or electoral politics.”
Sidhu said urban areas played a crucial role in the party’s victory in Punjab, and claimed his department was being singled out. “I always regard him [Amarinder Singh] as my elder,” he added. “I always listen to him. But it hurts and now where is the collective responsibility? He [Amarinder Singh] could have called me and said anything he wanted to say.”
He added: “One must have the ability to see things in the right perspective. I cannot be taken for granted. I am answerable to the people of Punjab...I defend my name very fiercely, my performance, my credibility very fiercely. I have all the respect for every Congressmen and i will never ever utter a word against my brethren.”
The Congress won eight out of 13 parliamentary seats in Punjab, while nationally, it bagged only 52 seats.