Sidhu meets Rahul, Priyanka amid tussle with Amarinder

Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Monday met Congress chief Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi.

The meeting came two days after Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh divested Sidhu of his local bodies’ portfolio.

“Met the Congress President, handed him my letter, appraised him of the situation!” Sidhu tweeted. He also posted his picture with Gandhi, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and senior leader Ahmed Patel.

Singh and Sidhu have been at loggerheads since the cricketer-turned-politician hugged Pakistan army chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, at Prime Minister Imran Khan’s swearing-in function in August last year.

Singh has blamed Sidhu for the Congress’s drubbing in Lok Sabha elections, saying Indians would not tolerate hugging of the Pakistan army chief.

He has said that the Congress lost in Punjab’s urban areas due to Sidhu’s poor performance as the local bodies’ minister.

Sidhu skipped a cabinet meeting on Friday and instead held a press conference in Chandigarh.

Hours later, Singh divested him of the local bodies, tourism and cultural affairs portfolios and gave him the departments of power and new and renewable energy sources.

Sidhu is yet to take the charge of his new portfolios. Singh said his department had been “singled out publicly” and maintained that he could not be taken for granted as he has been a “performer throughout”.

Their differences escalated on Saturday when Singh kept Sidhu out of the eight consultative groups set up to review the state government’s key schemes.

Gandhi has tasked Patel to sort out the differences between Singh and Sidhu and to ensure that the party organisation does not suffer due to this infighting, according to people aware of the developments. Patel later telephoned Singh and conveyed Gandhi’s message to him, they added.

In his letter to Gandhi, Sidhu is learned to have explained in detail his performance as the minister in-charge of the local bodies and also as the party’s star campaigner across the country.

Congress’s Punjab in charge Asha Kumari insisted there was “no ill will” against Sidhu in the party. “I think the chief minister had shown magnanimity by giving Sidhu an equally important power department. While differences of opinion in the party are common, discipline is very important.”

First Published:
Jun 11, 2019 01:24 IST

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