Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday said if his Cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu did not want to do his job, there was nothing that he could do about it.
The minister should have accepted his new portfolio instead of shunning work in the middle of the crucial paddy season, said the Chief Minister, reiterating that Sidhu was given a job, which he should have accepted and done.
The Chief Minister’s assertions came after Sidhu said on Twitter that he sent his resignation to the Chief Minister.
“If Sidhu doesn’t want to do the job, there is nothing I can do about it,” said Amarinder Singh, questioning how a soldier could refuse a job assigned by the General.
There has to be some discipline in the government if it is to function effectively, the Chief Minister, who was away to New Delhi, said in a statement.
Asked if Sidhu had made any attempt at reconciliation, the Chief Minister said there was no need for it.
“I do not have any issues with him. If Sidhu has any issues with me, you’ll have to ask him about them,a he added, in response to a question by reporters in Delhi.
The Chief Minister, however, said he did not see any harm in the minister sending his papers to the Congress President.
The Cabinet was decided in consultation with the Congress high command so it was “ok” for Sidhu to send his resignation to the party president, said the Chief Minister, in response to media queries.
He was talking informally to reporters at Parliament House after a courtesy call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Amarinder Singh said he had called on the Prime Minister since he had not met him so far during the latter’s second term.
During the meeting, he discussed the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev.
The Prime Minister confirmed his participation in the event and assured of all possible help for the programme to be held on a grand scale, befitting the historic occasion, said the Chief Minister.
The legacy issue of the Rs 31,000 crore food debt also came up for discussion with the Prime Minister.
On the issue of Sidhu’s resignation, the Chief Minister said he had been informed that the resignation was sent to his residence in Chandigarh but he was yet to see it.
He would have to read it first to be able to comment on it, he added.
Pointing out that he had reshuffled the portfolios of 13 of the 17 ministers in his cabinet after the Lok Sabha elections, Amarinder Singh said Sidhu was the only member who had problems.
The reshuffle was decided on the basis of the performance of the ministers, and Sidhu should have accepted his new department, he said.
Sidhu was given the crucial Power portfolio, which was particularly important at this time in view of the paddy season, from June to October.
With many parts of Punjab not receiving adequate rainfall, the power situation was critical, requiring day-to-day monitoring, said the Chief Minister, adding that he was himself doing Sidhu’s job now.
The Chief Minister expressed his unhappiness with the statement issued by Sidhu and his wife regarding the latter’s candidature for the parliamentary elections.
He clarified that he had never opposed Navjot Kaur Sidhu’s candidature and had suggested she should contest from Bathinda, which the couple rejected.
On a question about Rahul Gandhi, the Chief Minister said he would certainly be meeting him.
Gandhi has continued to work for the party, which was not at a standstill, as being projected by the opposition and sections of the media, he clarified.
The work (in the Congress) is going on, with a whole team to lead, said Amarinder Singh.
The rift between the Punjab Chief Minister and Sidhu deepened on Sunday, when the latter resigned as Minister for Power and New and Renewable Energy Sources, the portfolios he had not taken charge of.
“I hereby resign as Minister from the Punjab Cabinet,” Sidhu said in a hand-written letter posted on Twitter. “My letter to the Congress President Shri Rahul Gandhiji, submitted on June 10, 2019,” the MLA from Amritsar (East) tweeted.
“Will be sending my resignation to the Chief Minister, Punjab,” Sidhu further tweeted after Chief Minister’s media adviser Raveen Thukral told the CM office had not received his resignation