“Drama”: Akali Dal On Navjot Sidhu’s Resignation From Punjab Cabinet

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Navjot Singh Sidhu tweeted his resignation letter dated June 10 today.

Chandigarh:

Dubbing Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu's decision to quit the Punjab cabinet a "drama", opposition Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Sunday asked why he had sent his resignation letter to Rahul Gandhi instead of the chief minister.

Mr Sidhu on Sunday posted his resignation letter on Twitter and tagged senior Congress leaders, including Mr Gandhi who has quit as the party's president.

The letter dated June 10 was sent to Mr Gandhi four days after Mr Sidhu's portfolios of local government and cultural affairs were changed by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

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The cricketer-turned-politician, however, in another tweet said, "Will be sending my resignation to the Chief Minister, Punjab."

"It's a drama," SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said, adding that he failed to understand the logic behind Mr Sidhu submitting the resignation letter to Mr Gandhi.

Though Mr Gandhi has resigned, the Congress still considers him to be its chief. The party is yet to name his replacement.

"It is just a formality, he (Navjot Singh Sidhu) knows that it (the letter) will lie there (with Rahul Gandhi) and he will continue to enjoy ministerial perks," he said.

Senior SAD leader Prem Singh Chandumajra argued Mr Sidhu should have directly submitted his resignation to the chief minister.

Mr Sidhu, who has been at loggerheads with the Punjab chief minister, tweeted, "My letter to the Congress President Shri. Rahul Gandhi Ji, submitted on 10 June 2019."

He also posted a picture of the resignation letter and tagged Amarinder Singh, Rahul Gandhi and Congress leaders Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Ahmed Patel. On June 6, the chief minister had divested Mr Sidhu of the local government, and tourism and cultural affairs departments, and allotted him the power and new and renewable energy portfolio.

Over a month after he was stripped of the key portfolios, Mr Sidhu had not taken charge of his new assignment, as a stalemate with the chief minister had continued.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Tarun Chugh said Mr Sidhu submitted his resignation to Rahul Gandhi, who has already stepped down.

"If he had to resign, he could have given his resignation to the Punjab Governor or the chief minister," he said.

Tarun Chugh said Mr Sidhu, who was allocated the power department, "was no where to be seen for the last 40 days when the people of Punjab were reeling under power cuts".

However, there were some opposition leaders like Harpal Cheema, Simarjit Singh Bains and Sukhpal Singh Khaira who came out in Mr Sidhu's support.

"Sidhu enjoyed a clean reputation and as Sidhu was gradually emerging as a tall leader, many in his own party could not digest this and hatched a conspiracy forcing him to take the step," Aam Aadmi Party leader Harpal Cheema said.

Simarjit Bains of the Lok Insaaf Party said Mr Sidhu was not given a free hand because he could not tolerate any wrongdoing.

He advised him to quit the Congress and not just the cabinet.

Punjab Cabinet Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa said he would advise Mr Sidhu to change his mind and join the cabinet.

"However, if he is firm on his decision, he should directly submit his resignation to the chief minister," he said.

Mr Sidhu, a former BJP leader who had joined the Congress just ahead of the 2017 Punjab assembly polls, has been at loggerheads with Amarinder Singh for sometime now.

The tension between the chief minister and Mr Sidhu had come out in the open last month when the Chief Minister blamed Mr Sidhu for the "inept handling" of the local government department, claiming that it resulted in "poor performance" of the Congress in urban areas in the Lok Sabha polls.

The chief minister said last month that the urban vote bank had been the backbone of the Congress in Punjab but Mr Sidhu's "failure" in carrying out any development work impacted the party.

Mr Sidhu, however, had said that his department was being "singled out publicly" while asserting that he could not be taken for granted as he had been a "performer throughout".

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