Shatrughan Sinha joined the Congress in April, just days before Lok Sabha election were to begin. (File)
Congress leader Shatrughan Sinha on Sunday praised party colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu and said he was "appalled" by his decision to quit the Punjab cabinet, hours after the former state minister tweeted a copy of his resignation letter.
"Rather appalled to learn of Navjot Singh Sidhu's resignation from the Punjab Cabinet & Ministry," Mr Sinha said in a tweet. "He has been a supremely talented and popular sportsman/politician. Above all, a wonderful human being and man in demand, who is also a dear friend," he said.
Mr Sidhu on Sunday tweeted a letter he had submitted to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on June 10 resigning as minister from the Punjab cabinet. "Will be sending my resignation to the Chief Minister, Punjab," he said in another tweet. The move comes days after he had tweeted a picture with Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra after a meeting in Delhi.
My letter to the Congress President Shri. Rahul Gandhi Ji, submitted on 10 June 2019. pic.twitter.com/WS3yYwmnPl
— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) July 14, 2019
"While we cannot question his decision, one would certainly hope and pray for remedial measures soon towards resolving this unfortunate move," said Mr Sinha in an apparent reference to the rift between the Mr Sidhu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
Navjot Sidhu and Mr Sinha were both former BJP rebels who joined the Congress party. While Mr Sidhu had resigned from the Rajya Sabha in July 2016, he finally quit the BJP in September that year. Soon after, Mr Sidhu was believed to have been in talks with the Aam Aadmi Party and even floated his own party briefly, before joining the Congress in January 2017, just ahead of assembly elections in Punjab.
Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned from Punjab cabinet amid widening rift with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
Similarly, Mr Sinha quit the BJP in March after years of what had become an acrimonious relationship with the party's leadership. The actor-turned-politician had been openly critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then-party chief Amit Shah, often tweeting provocative statements against the party. He was even seen with opposition leaders in January at a mega rally in Kolkata, hosted by Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Mr Sinha joined the Congress in April, just days before the Lok Sabha election were to begin.
Tensions had been brewing between Mr Sidhu and the Chief Minister for months before the national election. It started when Mr Sidhu went to Islamabad for the swearing-in ceremony of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Months later, Mr Sidhu accused Amarinder Singh of blocking his wife Navjot Kaur's candidature from Amritsar. In a sulk, he went off the grid for more than 20 days without any explanation.
On June 6, hours after the first state Cabinet meeting since the election — Mr Sidhu skipped that meet — the Chief Minister reshuffled the portfolios of most of his ministers, including Mr Sidhu. This was the proverbial last straw and Mr Sidhu went on Facebook Live the same day saying he had been "singled out" for the party's dismal performance in the polls "in spite of collective responsibility."
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