Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday said if Navjot Sidhu did not want to do his job, there was nothing he could do about it. The minister should have accepted his new portfolio instead of shunning the work in the middle of the crucial Paddy season, said the Chief Minister, reiterating that Sidhu was given a job, which he should have accepted and done.
“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 the Chief Minister.
Asked if Sidhu had made any attempt at reconciliation, the Chief Minister 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, in response to a question.
The Chief Minister, however, said he did not see any harm in the minister sending his papers to the Congress president. The cabinet was decided in consultation with the Congress high command so it was ok for Sidhu to send his resignation to the party president, said the Chief Minister, in response to media queries. He was talking informally to reporters at Parliament House after a courtesy call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Captain Amarinder said he had called on the prime minister 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 program a grand success, befitting the historic occasion, said the Chief Minister.
The legacy issue of the Rs 31000 crore food debt also came up for discussion and the prime minister said that he was seized of the matter, said, Captain Amarinder.
On the issue of Sidhu’s resignation, the Chief Minister said he had been informed that the resignation was sent to his residence in Chandigarh but he was yet to see it. He would have to read it first to be able to comment on it, he added.
Pointing out that he had reshuffled the portfolios of 13 of the 17 ministers in his cabinet after the Lok Sabha elections, Captain Amarinder said Sidhu was the only member who had problems. The reshuffle was decided on the basis of the performance of the ministers, and Sidhu should have accepted his new department, he added.
Sidhu was given the crucial Power portfolio, which 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 daily monitoring, said the Chief Minister, adding that he was himself doing this job now.
The Chief Minister expressed his unhappiness with the statement issued by Sidhu and his wife regarding the latter’s candidature for the parliamentary elections. He clarified that he had never opposed Mrs. Navjot Sidhu’s candidature and had suggested she should contest from Bathinda, which the couple rejected.
On a question about Rahul Gandhi, the Chief Minister said he would certainly be meeting him. Rahul continued to work for the party, which was not at a standstill, as being projected by the opposition and sections of the media. The work (in the Congress) is going on, with a whole team to lead, said Captain Amarinder.