Chandigarh: Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu was on Thursday stripped of both his cabinet portfolios in what is being viewed as an outcome of the ongoing rift between him and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
The former cricketer will now take charge of the power and new and renewable energy sources ministry.
The strain in their relationship escalated on Thursday with Sidhu openly declaring that he “cannot be taken for granted”. Sidhu also stayed away from Thursday’s cabinet meeting, perhaps in protest in anticipation of his charge being downsized. Sidhu was minister of Local Bodies, Tourism and Cultural Affairs in Amarinder’s cabinet.
Amarinder had blamed Sidhu for his party’s poor performance in urban segments in the Lok Sabha polls. He had also castigated the former cricketer for his ‘friendly-match’ jibe on the eve of elections when Sidhu referred to the inaction against Akali Dal leaders on the issue of sacrilege.
“I cannot be taken for granted. I have been a performer throughout in 40 years of my life, be it international cricket or world class commentary with Geoffrey Boycott, TV shows or motivational talks,” Sidhu told reporters here. He also went live on Facebook to air his side of the story.
Sidhu accused Amarinder of singling out his department for the loss in urban areas. He cited statistics to rubbish the Punjab chief minister’s claims of poor performance by the Congress in urban and semi-urban areas. The Congress won eight out of the 13 seats in the recently concluded general elections while the SAD-BJP combine won 4 seats. The AAP won just one seat. Sidhu claimed urban areas played a pivotal role in the Congress victory in Punjab. “It’s about collective responsibility,” Sidhu said.
“He (Amarinder) could have called me and said anything he wanted to say,” Sidhu added. The government said, barring four ministers, there are some changes in the portfolios of all the ministers as a result of the reallocation.
Amarinder, who changed the portfolios of most of his ministers, said this will help further streamline the government and bring more transparency and efficiency in the departments.