Punjab CM, Navjot Sidhu meet over tea; return to cabinet discussed

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Chandigarh, Mar 17 (PTI) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Navjot Singh Sidhu on Wednesday met over tea, discussing the possible reinduction of the cricketer-turned-politician’s in the state cabinet.

The 40-minute meeting at the chief minister’s farmhouse near here comes amid speculation over rehabilitation of the Congress MLA, who quit the state cabinet after being stripped of a key portfolio by the CM.

The chief minister's media advisor shared on Twitter photographs of the two leaders together, indicating a thaw in their strained relations.

The issue of the Amritsar East MLA's return to the cabinet was discussed at the meeting, it is learnt. But there has been no official word on this.

Sidhu travelled with Punjab Sports minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi to the farmhouse at Siswan in Mohali.

He had resigned from the Punjab cabinet in 2019 after being stripped of the Local Bodies portfolio. The two leaders had not been on good terms for some time earlier.

This was the second meeting between the CM and Sidhu since then. The first meeting took place in November and was seen as a move by the CM to break the ice.

The Congress central leadership has been trying to rehabilitate Sidhu since his resignation, party leaders say.

Harish Rawat, who is in charge of Punjab affairs at the AICC, has been pushing for an important position for him. Last month, Sidhu also met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Delhi.

For the past several weeks, the Congress circles have been abuzz with speculation over a key cabinet berth for Sidhu again. There has also been talk of appointing him the state Congress president.

The tension between Amarinder Singh and Sidhu had come out in the open in May 2019 when the CM blamed the former cricketer for the 'inept handling' of the Local Government Department, claiming it had resulted in the 'poor performance' of the Congress in urban areas in the Lok Sabha polls.

Sidhu was later stripped of this portfolio in a cabinet reshuffle, after which he resigned.

Hours before Wednesday’s meeting, the ex-cricketer's wife told reporters that the Sidhu was not after any post but only wanted to serve the people of the state.

Navjot Kaur Sidhu said she and her husband and are not in politics for any post. 'Otherwise, he could have been a Union minister,” she claimed, referring to his decision to quit the ruling BJP in 2016. PTI CHS VSD ASH ASH