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Stalemate on: Sidhu yet to take charge of ministry in Punjab

By Anuj Cariappa

Amritsar, July 04: Nearly a month after he was stripped of key portfolios in the Punjab cabinet following a reshuffle, Navjot Singh Sidhu is yet to take charge of his new assignment, as a stalemate with chief minister Amarinder Singh continues.

On June 6, chief minister Amarinder Singh had divested Sidhu of the Local Government and Tourism and Cultural Affairs Departments and allotted him the power and new and renewable energy portfolio.

File photo of Navjot Singh Sidhu

In an apparent snub, Sidhu was also left out of the consultative groups formed by the chief minister on June 8, two days after the cabinet reshuffle, to accelerate the implementation of the government's flagship programmes.

Congress veteran Ahmed Patel was entrusted with the task of resolving the issues between the two.

Amarinder Singh had met Patel during his visit to Delhi last month, but the party reportedly described the meeting as a "courtesy call".

Ever since the portfolio reshuffle exercise, the Punjab minister and his wife Navjot Kaur have been maintaining distance from the media.

The Sidhu couple is currently in Amritsar and meeting people, a close aide of the Punjab minister said on Wednesday.

Sidhu had even approached Congress president Rahul Gandhi last month and had "apprised him of the situation" besides handing over a letter to him.

<strong>Two weeks after Cabinet re-shuffle, Navjot Sidhu continues to sulk</strong>Two weeks after Cabinet re-shuffle, Navjot Sidhu continues to sulk

He had also shared a picture with Rahul Gandhi, party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi and senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel on his Twitter handle and Facebook page on June 10.

Since then, he has not shared anything on Twitter and Facebook.

Navjot Singh Sidhu, a former BJP leader who had joined the Congress just ahead of the 2017 Punjab assembly polls, has been at loggerheads with Amarinder for sometime now.

The tension between Amarinder Singh and his cabinet colleague had come out in the open last month when the CM blamed Sidhu for the "inept handling" of the Local Government Department, claiming that it resulted in the "poor performance" of the Congress in urban areas in the Lok Sabha polls.

The CM said last month that the urban vote bank had been the backbone of the Congress in Punjab but Sidhu's "failure" in carrying out any development work impacted the party.

Sidhu, however, had said that his department was being "singled out publicly" while asserting that he could not be taken for granted as he had been a "performer throughout". Earlier, Amarinder Singh had taken umbrage at Sidhu's "friendly match" jibe during electioneering in Bathinda on May 17.

Sindhu had allegedly cornered the Congress government in the state over the issue of the desecration of religious texts, questioning why no FIR was lodged against the Badals, who ran the previous government in the state.

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