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The Curious Case of the Deputy CM Offer For Navjot Singh Sidhu

Much is being read into Navjot Singh Sidhu walking past Capt Amarinder Singh just after being sworn in as a Minister in the cabinet, only to pause when Amarinder Singh waved to him, turn around and then touch the newly minted Punjab Chief Minister’s feet.

Jyoti Kamal | CNN-News18jyotik

Updated:March 16, 2017, 11:26 PM IST
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Chandigarh: Much is being read into Navjot Singh Sidhu walking past Capt Amarinder Singh just after being sworn in as a Minister in the cabinet, only to pause when Amarinder Singh waved to him, turn around and then touch the newly minted Punjab Chief Minister’s feet.

sidhu hugging amarinder

Was Sidhu annoyed that he had been given a relatively unimportant portfolio comprising local government, tourism, cultural affairs, museums and archives? Even if Sidhu was content with what he got, his disappearing act and not addressing the media after the swearing in, unlike what other new ministers and leaders did, only added to the controversy.

A day before, a social media viral thread triggered speculation over Navjot Sidhu being made Deputy Chief Minister. Sources pointed out that the viral content was geared at putting pressure on the leadership to actually consider Sidhu for the deputy chief minister post.

Navjot Sidhu has, however, all along denied that there was ever a demand for the deputy chief minister post. The Congress also clarified neither was there a demand from Sidhu, nor was there an offer from the Congress to make him the deputy chief minister. In any case the relationship between Navjot Sidhu and Capt Amarinder Singh has not been a cosy one.

In late August 2016, Sidhu’s wife, Navjot Kaur Sidhu had said Capt Amarinder Singh is power hungry. "Capt Amarinder spoke positively about Sidhu when he felt the latter was joining the Congress only to speak negatively when he felt Sidhu was not likely to join," said Sidhu's wife.

She had also said Congress is not an option for Sidhu since its leader Amarinder Singh is not someone who can do anything for Punjab as he has many allegations against him. She also questioned his moral authority to lead the Congress.

However, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal went on record to say that Sidhu decided to ignore the AAP offer of being made Deputy Chief Minister since he was offered Chief Ministership of Punjab by the Congress in December before Amarinder Singh’s name was officially announced by Rahul Gandhi in January.

Shiromani Akali Dal deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal also joined the chorus when he said Sidhu is a mercenary who has been offered the post of Deputy Chief Minister by the Congress. Finally, Navjot Sidhu at a rally in Jalandhar said he had been offered the post of Deputy chief minister by the AAP and was also given to believe that Arvind Kejriwal will be the chief minister of Punjab for one year and that Sidhu will thereafter takeover as the Punjab chief minister.

Amarinder Singh speaking to News18 also said Kejriwal would have surely taken over as Punjab CM had the party won in the state. However, dashing Sidhu’s deputy chief minister plans Amarinder Singh said the post is not specified in the constitution and the Congress government in Punjab will not open this option. Amarinder Singh said the two previous Deputy CM appointments of Sukhbir Badal by the SAD Government and Rajinder Kaur Bhattal by the Congress were anomalies that did not have to be repeated as there was no point in creating alternate power centres in the state.

With a list of senior Congress leaders vying for important portfolios and posts in the state including Brahm Mohindra, Tript Bajwa, Manpreet Badal and Rana Gurjit Singh, giving Sidhu any post perceived as more important than theirs would have been stirring a hornet's nest in a Congress that had been facing flak for being faction ridden.

Punjab Congress in-charge Asha Kumari on Thursday said the whole Sidhu controversy is a media creation and there is nothing to it. “Sidhu is a congress worker and will work for the interests of Punjab without worrying about posts”, she said.

Elected to Parliament thrice and to the state legislature with a victory margin that is second only to Capt Amarinder Singh, Navjot Sidhu might have expected more. However, a new entrant to the party he will have to remain content with what he has been offered especially because his constant shifting from one party to another and burning his bridges left him with very few options.

| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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