APS Deol's Promotion, Cabinet Expansion: What Drove Sidhu's Exit From Top Post?

In a move that has raised some eyebrows, Navjot Singh Sidhu has resigned as Punjab Congress president.

3 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>In a move that sent shockwaves across the Congress, Navjot Singh Sidhu, on Tuesday, 28 September, stepped down as the president of the party's Punjab unit.</p></div>

In a move that sent shockwaves across the Congress, Navjot Singh Sidhu, on Tuesday, 28 September, stepped down as the president of the party's Punjab unit, merely days after his rival, Amarinder Singh, resigned from Punjab's chief ministerial post.

Amarinder Singh's exit had marked a triumph for Sidhu, who had also been touted as the probable chief ministerial face for the upcoming Punjab Assembly elections.

What, then, impelled Sidhu's resignation?

The Quint delves into the possible factors behind Sidhu's retirement from his post merely two months after his appointment in July.


1. The Promotions of APS Deol and Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota

Speaking to The Quint, party sources indicated that Sidhu had opposed the appointment of Amar Preet Singh Deol as Punjab's Advocate General. He had also contradicted the promotion of Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota, who has been given the additional charge of the director general of Punjab police.

Sahota and Deol have been under the cloud over sacrilege cases of 2015, wherein the police had fired at civilians protesting the desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib at Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura.

APS Deol has served as the personal lawyer of former DGP Sumedh Saini and IPS Pramraj Singh Umranangal, both accused in Behbal Kalan firing case. Sahota, on the other hand, had been head of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that had been set up to probe the sacrilege incidents and had been accused of going soft on the probe.

The promotion of the two, then, undermines the influence of Sidhu, who has been a staunch critic of the Amarinder Singh-led Punjab government's handling of the sacrilege cases.

The matter had been a bone of contention between Sidhu and Amarinder Singh since the beginning of their feud, and had drawn critics of the latter in Sidhu's favour.

While Sahota had been appointed as the DGP on Saturday, Deol's promotion was announced as recently as Monday.

2. Cong Wasn't Committing to Naming Sidhu as CM Face for 2022

Congress party sources told The Quint that Sidhu was unhappy that the party had not committed to making him the chief ministerial face for the 2022 state elections.

While Sidhu had not aspired to the top state government post when it opened up after Amarinder Singh's exit, it was speculated that Sidhu would be elevated to the chief ministerial post in the 2022 state Assembly elections.

However, there appeared to be a lack of unanimity in the party over this prospect.

“On the swearing-in day of Shri Charanjit Channi as Chief Minister, Mr Rawat’s statement that 'elections will be fought under Sidhu', is baffling," veteran Punjab Congress leader Sunil Jakhar had said, shortly after the party's state in-charge Harish Rawat had championed Sidhu's leadership.

Captain Amarinder Singh, soon after his resignation, had also made it evident that Sidhu's nomination for the chief ministerial post, if filed, would be vehemently opposed.

"I will fight the elevation of Sidhu to Punjab chief ministership tooth and nail and am ready to make any sacrifice to save the country from such a dangerous man," he had articulated.


3. Differences With the New Punjab Cabinet

Sources suggest that the organisation of the newly formed Punjab Cabinet, which was inducted on Sunday, did not sit well with Navjot Singh Sidhu. The cricketer-turned-politician was reportedly upset that his commands were not being followed by the new Cabinet.

It may also be pertinent to note that three ministers in the new Cabinet –Rana Gurjeet Singh, Brahm Mohindra, and Vijay Inder Singla – are considered as the loyalists of Amarinder Singh.

Of these, Rana Gurjeet Singh had been forced to resign from state ministership in 2018, following allegations of his embroilment in a sand mining corruption scandal. Seven prominent Congress leaders from Doaba had written to Navjot Singh Sidhu against his inclusion in the Cabinet in 2021, The Tribune reported.

Sidhu had reportedly not been too keen with Rana Gurjeet Singh's appointment, or that of Gurkirat Singh Kotli, who had been the main accused in a 1994 case involving the abduction and molestation of a French woman.

Questioned about Sidhu's purported disapproval of the "bureaucratic set up," CM Channi, speaking to news agency ANI after Sidhu's resignation, said, "It will be settled if he is upset... though he is not upset with me."

'Collapse of a Man's Character Stems From the Compromise Corner': Sidhu

Hinting that some sort of compromise had fuelled his decision, Sidhu, in his resignation letter to party president Sonia Gandhi, stated:

“The collapse of a man’s character stems from the compromise corner, I can never compromise to Punjab’s future and the agenda for the welfare of Punjab. Therefore, I hereby resign as the President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee." (sic)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Edited By :Tejas Harad
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