Punjab Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot on Monday asked Navjot Singh Sidhu to resign from the state cabinet if he cannot work with Amarinder Singh, a day after the chief minister accused the cricketer-turned-politician of “damaging” the Congress just before polls.
As the tension between Amarinder Singh and his cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu continues to simmer, more ministers have come out in support of the chief minister.
Amarinder Singh had Sunday lashed out at the Punjab tourism and cultural affairs minister for his comments against him and the Congress leadership in the state claiming that Sidhu was perhaps “ambitious” and “wants to be the chief minister”.
Following State Health Minister Brahm Mohindra backing the chief minister, Forest Minister Dharamsot told reporters in Chandigarh on Monday that Sidhu’s recent remarks were “against party discipline” and one that could “harm the party”.
“Sidhu’s remarks came at a time when entire Congress was unitedly fighting to ensure that the party wins all the 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab. The party high command should take notice of his comments. If Sidhu thinks he cannot work with Capt Amarinder ji, then he should resign immediately,” Dharamsot said.
“I think his ambitions are very high and he remains dis-satisfied wherever he goes. When he was in the BJP, he was not satisfied there. Today, he may be eyeing chief minister’s post, tomorrow even prime minister’s chair may not satisfy him. So, wherever he goes, he has problems,” he added.
Dharamsot said the Congress gave more to Sidhu than he deserved and that he should not hanker for posts and berths.
“Politics is a serious business, we are all here with a purpose of bringing about a positive change in people’s lives and uplifting poor and weaker sections. Hankering for posts and berths should not be the aim… Personally, I think Sidhu got more than he deserved,” he said.
In his attack on Sidhu, Amarinder Singh had said that if the minister was a real Congressman, he should have chosen a better time to air his grievances, instead of just ahead of voting in Punjab.
The chief minister’s statement had come on a day when all 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab went to polls on May 19.
Soon afterwards, Mohindra hit out at Sidhu for his “out-of-turn and untimely outbursts against the party leadership, chief minister and the government”, saying it amounted to “sabotage”.
On May 17, Sidhu had appeared to corner the Congress government in the state over the issue of desecration of religious scriptures and questioned why no FIR was lodged against the Badals in connection with the 2015 sacrilege and police-firing incidents.
Sidhu, who was campaigning in favour of Congress nominee Amrinder Singh Raja Warring in Bathinda, had even said that he would resign if action was not taken against those behind the 2015 desecration incidents.
Amarinder Singh had said that it was for the party high command to decide on any action against Sidhu, adding that the Congress, does not tolerate indiscipline.
The differences between the chief minister and his cabinet colleague came to the fore in August last year when Amarinder Singh advised Sidhu against attending the swearing-in ceremony of Imran Khan as the Pakistan Prime Minister.
However, the cricketer-turned-politician not only attended the event but also hugged the Pakistan Army chief which was disapproved by Amarinder Singh.
The relation strained further when months later, Sidhu said that Congress chief Rahul Gandhi was his captain and that the Gandhi scion was the “captain of the captain” referring to Amarinder Singh.
Several Punjab ministers had hit out at Sidhu, questioning the “tone and tenor” of his remark.
On Monday, Anil Vij, Health Minister in the BJP led government in neighbouring Haryana, too chimed in advising Sidhu to join the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf– the political party of the country’s prime minister Imran Khan.
“Navjot Singh Sidhu having (been) snub (bed) from all parties including BJP & Congres is left with no choice except to join Imran Khan Party–Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (sic),” Vij tweeted.