Express News Service
CHANDIGARH: The sparring match between Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and Navjot Singh Sidhu reached another flash point on Tuesday, with the incumbent daring the ex-cricketer to challenge him in his pocket borough of Patiala. Sidhu has been critical of his own government ever since the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashed the Special Investigation Team (SIT) report into the 2015 Kotkapura firing on April 9.
A day after Sidhu attacked the Congress dispensation over delay in justice, Amarinder made it clear that the party would not tolerate indiscipline. Daring Sidhu to challenge him from Patiala, Amarinder said the former India opener would meet the same fate of former army chief General J J Singh, who had lost his security deposit.
Navjot Singh Sidhu In an official statement issued by the Chief Minister’s Office, Amarinder questioned Sidhu’s allegiance, asking whether he was a member of the Congress or not. “If yes, then his rant against his Chief Minister and the government amounts to gross indiscipline,” said Amarinder Singh. Casting doubts on Sidhu’s political future, Amarinder said: “The BJP would not take him back and as far as the SAD is concerned, they are also peeved at him.”
Lauding Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar, who offered to resign after the verdict, the chief minister said there was no chance of Sidhu replacing Jakhar. “Sidhu joined Congress only four years ago, and as such there are many who have started their career with the Youth Congress and are much senior to him. Hence, how can he be made the deputy chief minister of the PPCC president,” he pointed out, adding that Jakhar and Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa’s resignations had been rejected.
Assuring that Kotkapura probe would be brought to its logical conclusion, Amarinder said a new SIT would take over the investigation. However, he said that the April 9 verdict was more political than a judicial judgment. He also sought to clarify that the Kotkapura verdict had no bearing on the Guru Granth Sahib sacrilege cases as both were separate.
Meanwhile, responding to Amarinder, Sidhu tweeted, “Efforts to derail Punjab’s conscience will fail … My Soul is Punjab and Punjab’s Soul is Guru Granth Sahib Ji … Our fight is for Justice & punishing the guilty, an assembly seat is not even worth discussion in the same breathe !!”
In 2015, police had opened fire at agitators protesting against the sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib, prompting the government to institute an SIT probe, which was quashed by the High Court on April 9.The verdict had given former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal a clean chit while issuing strictures against the SIT probe head Kunwar Vijay Pratap.