New Delhi: Congress Navjot Singh Sidhu said Sunday that he had resigned from the Punjab cabinet, sharing on Twitter the resignation letter he sent former party president Rahul Gandhi over a month ago.
“Respected sir, I hereby resign as the minister from the Punjab cabinet,” reads the one-line letter dated 10 June.
My letter to the Congress President Shri. Rahul Gandhi Ji, submitted on 10 June 2019. pic.twitter.com/WS3yYwmnPl
— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) July 14, 2019
The letter is addressed to the president of the Indian National Congress and not the chief minister of Punjab.
Sidhu’s resignation as cabinet minister follows a long and bitter squabble with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, both of whom have not refrained from taking public jibes at each other.
Singh had last month divested Singh of the local bodies ministry and handed him the power and renewable energy portfolio. ThePrint had reported earlier this week that Sidhu, said to be in a sulk, was yet to take charge of his new ministry.
Meanwhile, the Punjab government has said it hasn’t been informed of any resignation. “We haven’t received anything so far. He has to send us his official resignation,” Raveen Thukral, Punjab government’s media advisor, told ThePrint.
In a sulk
Sidhu’s tweet marked his first online appearance since his meeting with Gandhi in June. He was believed to be in Vaishno Devi, incommunicado, in the time since.
“Many of us have repeatedly tried to appeal to Sidhu to join the cabinet again, power is not a bad portfolio,” a Punjab cabinet minister told ThePrint on condition of anonymity.
The minister added that if Sidhu really was serious about resigning, he should submit the letter to the CM and not Gandhi.
“He is trying show he is close to the high command, but all he is doing is putting them in an embarrassing position,” the cabinet minister said. “His move is politically immature.”
Explaining the correct procedure for a state cabinet minister to resign, former additional solicitor general of India Mohan Parasaran said, “Protocol dictates he address the letter to the governor, who can choose whether or not accept his resignation on the advice of the CM.”
“Rahul Gandhi can forward the letter to the CM to take appropriate action, but he himself has resigned,” he added.
Sidhu, one of the Congress’ star campaigners during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, has been upset over Amarinder blaming him for the party’s poor performance.
He was particularly irked when three of his cabinet colleagues — Brahm Mohindra, Charanjit Singh Channi and Bharat Bhushan Ashu —went to meet senior leader Ahmed Patel with a case against him last month.
The former cricketer has also accused Amarinder of stalling his wife’s nomination as the Congress candidate for the Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat.
A combative opposition
Meanwhile, Sidhu’s absence as power minister has led the opposition to attack the government for leaving the portfolio unattended amid a scorching summer.
BJP leader Tarun Chugh Monday wrote to Punjab governor V.P. Singh Badnore, asking how Sidhu could continue to draw his salary from the public exchequer despite not working at all.
“Since the minister has gone ‘underground’ and is incommunicado and has willfully chosen not to take charge of his new assignment, the work related to his department is suffering like anything,” he said in the letter.
This report has been updated with an expert’s quote on the exact procedure for a state cabinet minister to resign.