Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday took a jibe at Navjot Singh Sidhu and said that if he was unwilling to discharge his duties as a minister, there was nothing he could do about it.
The Punjab chief minister asserted that Sidhu was given a new portfolio after much deliberation and instead of accepting his new portfolio, he decided to shun the work in the middle of the crucial paddy season.
“If Sidhu doesn’t want to do the job, there is nothing I can do about it,” said Captain Amarinder, 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, added Amarinder Singh.
Asked if Sidhu had got in touch with him to resolve the issues, the Punjab CM 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,” he added.
Singh, however, noted that he did not see any harm in Sidhu's decision to send his resignation papers to the Congress president. The cabinet was decided in consultation with the Congress high command so there was nothing wrong in Sidhu's decision to send his resignation to the party president, said the Chief Minister. He was talking informally to reporters at Parliament House after a courtesy call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Punjab chief minister said that he came to meet PM Modi since he had not met him so far during the latter’s second term. However, he took the opportunity to discuss the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji. The prime minister confirmed his participation in the mega event and assured of all possible help to make the programme a grand success, befitting the historic occasion, said Singh.
The legacy issue of the Rs 31,000 crore food debt also came up for discussion and the prime minister said that he was aware of the matter, said Punjab CM.
The Punjab CM said that the portfolios of 13 of the 17 ministers in his cabinet were reshuffled after the recently held Lok Sabha election and Sidhu was the only member who had problems with his new portfolio. The reshuffle was decided on the basis of the performance of the ministers and Sidhu should have accepted his new department, he stressed.
It is to be noted that Sidhu was given the crucial Power Ministry after the reshuffle and according to Singh the portfolio 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 the day monitoring, said the Chief Minister, adding that he was himself doing this job now.
Singh said that he was unhappy with the statements made by Sidhu and his wife regarding the latter’s candidature for the parliamentary elections. He clarified that he had never opposed Sidhu’s wife's candidature and had suggested she should contest from Bathinda but the couple rejected the offer.