Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, September 28
Barely two months after he was appointed Punjab Pradesh Congress chief, Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned from the position on Tuesday, throwing the faction-ridden party unit and newly formed Charanjit Singh Channi government into crisis.
FIVE REASONS FOR RESIGNATION
- Induction of Rana Gurjeet Singh and others facing graft allegations
- Only one Sidhu loyalist, Pargat Singh, taken in the Channi-led Cabinet
- Appointment of APS Deol, who defended Sumedh Saini in Behbal Kalan case, as A-G (Read story)
- Home portfolio for Sukhjinder Randhawa, whose name for CM’s post Sidhu had opposed
- Sidhu told to focus on party affairs, leaving government functioning to CM Channi
AICC sends Harish Rawat: AICC gen secy Harish Rawat and Harish Chaudhary will arrive in Chandigarh on Wednesday to resolve the Punjab crisis.
3 ministers in Patiala
Three Cabinet ministers — Razia Sultana, Pargat Singh and Raja Warring — and five MLAs — Kuljit Nagra, Inderbir Singh Bolaria, Sukhwinder Singh Danny, Kulbir Singh Zira and Sukhpal Singh Khaira — were at Sidhu’s residence till late Tuesday night.
‘Man of principles’
Minister Razia Sultana quit in solidarity with Sidhu, calling him a ‘man of principles’. Her husband Mohammad Mustafa, a fomer DGP, was one of Sidhu’s key advisers.
Cabinet meeting today
Amid the ongoing crisis, Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi called a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. Earlier at a press conference, he said he had full faith and confidence in Navjot Sidhu. “He’s not upset with me,” he stressed.
More quit posts
Punjab Congress general secretaries Yoginder Dhingra and Gautam Seth and treasurer Gulzar Inder Chahal resigned after Sidhu quit as PCC chief.
The abrupt resignation took place on a day former CM Amarinder Singh headed to Delhi and a day prior to AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal’s scheduled visit to Punjab to make some “big announcements”.
In his resignation letter to AICC chief Sonia Gandhi, Sidhu wrote: “I can never compromise on Punjab’s future and welfare agenda. Therefore, I hereby resign as president of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. Will continue to serve the Congress”. Within hours, Water Supply and Sanitation Minister Razia Sultana quit in solidarity with Sidhu. Her husband Mohammad Mustafa, a former DGP, was one of Sidhu’s key advisers.
Food Supplies Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu said: “We will not tolerate anybody who weakens the party.”
Sources said even while efforts were on to placate Sidhu, the party high command was expected take a stern stand in order to send out the message that the top brass was in complete control.
Sources in the Chief Minister’s office brushed off reports of Education and Sports Minister Pargat Singh tendering his resignation. Sidhu was inaccessible for comment. Ever since the oath-taking ceremony on Sunday, Sidhu has been sulking at his Patiala residence. The party has reportedly sent his aide Pargat Singh to placate him.
Chief Minister Channi held an emergency Cabinet meeting later in the day following reports of a group of MLAs resigning in support of Sidhu. These MLAs, who were opposed to ‘tainted’ MLAs being inducted in the Cabinet, had met Sidhu in Patiala. Party insiders said ministers and MLAs backing Sidhu were building pressure on the party high command to seek the resignation of the controversial ministers.
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