Chandigarh: Punjab Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who is at loggerheads with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and got a new portfolio on Thursday, failed to resume his new charge, it was learnt on Saturday. He is camping in the national capital to have an audience with party's top leadership.
Hours after the first state Cabinet meeting post the Lok Sabha elections, the Chief Minister on Thursday rejigged the portfolios of most of the ministers, including Sidhu. Barring four ministers, there were some changes in the portfolios of all the ministers as a result of the reallocation, which the Chief Minister said would help further streamline the government system and processes and bring more transparency and efficacy to the various departments.
Local Government was earlier with Sidhu, who now gets Power and New and Renewable Energy Sources. His other portfolio of Tourism and Cultural Affairs was also taken over by the Chief Minister. Almost all ministers, except Sidhu, have assumed the new office, a senior government functionary told IANS.
Since Congress President Rahul Gandhi is on his first trip to Wayanad after a victory at the seat in the Lok Sabha polls, Sidhu is likely to meet Priyanka Gandhi and Ahmed Patel in a day or two, a senior party leader said, requesting anonymity. He may also wait till the return of Gandhi to New Delhi, he added.
He and his former legislator wife Navjot Kaur have not reacted to the media since Sidhu was divested of his portfolio. A defiant Sidhu, in fact, skipped a Cabinet meeting on Thursday and declared later that he cannot be taken for granted.
This was the first meeting of the Cabinet after the Lok Sabha elections, and the Chief Minister set a deadline for the completion of his government's flagship programmes within six months. This was the second time in a week when Sidhu boycotted a crucial meeting in evident protest.
Earlier, Sidhu was absent from the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting chaired by Amarinder Singh here last week. Missing no opportunity in taking a jibe at Sidhu after the portfolio reallocation, Akali Dal President and Member of Parliament Sukhbir Singh Badal tweeted: "He has been given 'power' so that Sidhu can perform and achieve the same results in rural areas too."
Badal said the Chief Minister removed him from the Local Government citing his performance as the reason for the party's defeat in urban areas in the Lok Sabha elections.