Explained: Why Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned as Punjab minister

Kanchan Vasdev
Navjot Singh Sidhu speaks during the second day of the 84th Congress Plenary Session. (Express Photo by Praveen Jain)

Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu Sunday resigned from Captain Amarinder Singh’s Cabinet after a rather long-drawn battle between him and the Punjab Chief Minister.

While the relation between the two had not been amicable, it accentuated when Sidhu announced to visit Pakistan to be part of the oathtaking ceremony of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Hitting out at the cricketer-turned-politician, Amarinder had advised him to reconsider his decision.

Read | Navjot Singh Sidhu s cabinet colleagues calls resignation a drama from king of theatrics

However, Sidhu went ahead and crossed over Wagah to be part of the ceremony. His controversial hug with Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa further compounded problems as the chief minister publicly criticised him and called Bajwa guilty of killings of innocent Indian armed forces personnel.

It is to be noted that after straining relations with the BJP, Sidhu was brought into the Congress fold by Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, while keeping Amarinder Singh out of the loop. Though Sidhu often referred to Amarinder as a father figure , tensions between the two was palpable.

Upon joining the Punjab Cabinet, Sidhu failed to make a mark even while trying to bring a legislation to levy entertainment tax on cable TV network linked with Badals. His suggestions on earning revenue through sand mining and excise collections were rejected. The state government even backed his conviction in a road rage case by the Supreme Court. The feud reached a flashpoint ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, when Sidhu, named a star campaigner by the Congress high command, was not allowed to campaign in Punjab.

Navjot Singh Sidhu with Rahul Gandhi in Delhi. Express Photo

However, after Priyanka Gandhi’s intervention, he campaigned for party candidate Amrinder Singh Raja in Bathinda. This angered Amarinder, who accused Sidhu of eyeing the chief ministerial berth.

After Congress won eight Parliamentary seats in the state, an emboldened Amarinder called Sidhu a non-performer and pested him of his Local Bodies Department. Sidhu, countered the allegation, made public his self-appraisal and took the issue to the high command. After waiting for over a month, he made public his resignation to the then AICC president Rahul Gandhi. He tweeted that he would submit his resignation to the Chief Minister as well.