Navjot Singh Sidhu resigns as Punjab Congress chief

Puts up his resignation letter on Twitter; I told you so, says Amarinder

Navjot Singh Sidhu resigns as Punjab Congress chief

Navjot Singh Sidhu. Tribune file photo

Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, September 28

Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu announced his resignation from his position on Tuesday. 

He put up his resignation letter addressed to Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Twitter.

Reacting to Sidhu's resignation as PPCC chief, AICC general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal said, “All will be ok in Punjab Congress. Sidhu's reaction is emotional.' 

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"The collapse of a man's character stems from the compromise corner. | can never compromise on Punjab's future and the agenda for the welfare of Punjab," Sidhu's letter to Sonia Gandhi said.

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"Therefore, I hereby resign as the President of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. Will continue to serve the Congress," he said. 

Soon after this, Gulzar Inder Singh Chahal, who was made Treasurer of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee soon after Sidhu took over, also put in his papers, as did general secretary Yoginder Dhingra.

The second significant resignation however came from Punjab Minister Razia Sultana. Sultana, whose husband is Sidhu's chief strategic adviser, said she was resigning from the cabinet only hours after she was given water supply and sanitation, social security, women and child development, printing, and stationery departments. 

Sidhu's resignation comes amid the furore over Deol's appointment. Deol, who has, among his various high-profile cases, represented Punjab's tainted ex-DGP, Sumedh Singh Saini, was appointed through an official notification on Monday. Chief Minister Charanjit Channi has tried to downplay the controversy saying the case was just another one taken up in the course of Deol's professional duties.  

He's believed to be upset over the recent developments in the state—from the non-inclusion of some Members of Legislative Assembly in the recently-expanded cabinet of Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and the appointment of Punjab's new Advocate General, Amar Preet Singh Deol.

'I told you so'

Former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh,  Sidhu's arch-rival, was among the first to react, with a cheeky: "I told you so".

"I told you so…he is not a stable man and not fit for the border state of Punjab," his tweet said.

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Capt Amarinder Singh has had a long-running power tussle with Sidhu, who's generally been seen as vying for the position the former once held.  After he'd resigned, Amarinder had vowed to ensure Sidhu wouldn't become chief minister, calling him a friend of Pakistan and a security threat to the entire country.   

Sidhu meanwhile has refused to talk to anyone, sources say, and is currently holed up at his Patiala residence with only close aides. 

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'Unaware'

Chief Minister Channi told the press that he was unaware of the development.

Channi, whose press conference was held a short while after Sidhu’s announcement, said he would have to speak to Sidhu, whom he still “considered” Punjab Congress chief, before he commented on the development.

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He said the party would talk to Sidhu. 

“He is the party president. If he's upset, it will be settled," Channi said. 

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'Reconsider'

Bholnath Member of Legislative Assembly Sukhpal Khaira urged Sidhu to reconsider his decision. Khaira,  a Congressman who'd quit the party in a huff in 2015 to join the Aam Aadmi Party only to return to the Congress fold in June, also asked the party high-command to find solutions to the issues Sidhu raised.

The development has put the Congress in a spot. Sidhu had replaced Sunil Jakhar as Congress in June after much power tussle between him and former chief minister Amarinder Singh. Congress leadership was preparing to project Sidhu as the chief ministerial candidate for the 2022 assembly elections before Charanjit Singh Channi was named chief minister after Amarinder Singh resigned in “humiliation” earlier this month.

'Will sit and talk to Sidhu, he is party president': Punjab CM Channi

Sidhu’s resignation comes hours after new ministers in Channi’s cabinet were given portfolios. It also came less than a week after  Capt Amarinder Singh resigned from the chief minister's position, spurring a change at the helm of the Congress government in Punjab. 

Channi, who was chosen as Amarinder Singh's successor, would head the state government for a few months until the Punjab Assembly elections early next year. 

It remains to be seen what effect the political turmoil within the Punjab Congress would have on the elections.

 

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