Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu Thursday hit back at Chief Minister Amarinder Singh saying he has been unfairly “singled out” for the poor performance of the Congress and that some people wanted him out of the party.
Sidhu also defended the working of his local government department saying that no other minister in the Amarinder Singh dispensation has worked “so transparently.”
His reaction came after the chief minister said that Sidhu’s performance as a minister needed to be reviewed as he had “not been able to handle his own department”. Amarinder Singh had said that the Congress in Punjab performed poorly in urban areas and Sidhu was the minister for urban development.
Maintaining that Sidhu’s remarks on sacrilege issue “might have affected the party’s performance in Bathinda”, he had said that he would take up the issue with the party high command once things settled after the election results.
Responding to the chief minister’s remarks, Sidhu said his department was a “rudderless ship” when he had joined it. The cricketer-turned-politician said in the past two years, the department has managed to generate Rs 6,000 crore and all its projects are being completed on war-footing basis.
“There are some eight or nine people who in the past also wanted me to be thrown out of the party, but I have never spoken a word against them,” Sidhu said.
“The department didn’t even have five paisa. No money to give salaries to its employees, there was no vision, no accountability and no question was raised over its functioning,” he said.
“I have announced unlimited funds for 16 cities of the state falling under the Centre’s AMRUT scheme. I allocated Rs 1,700 crore for sewerage plants and Rs 3,000 crore for fitting of pipes,” the Punjab minister said.
Amarinder Singh and Sidhu have openly been at loggerheads over several issues. The chief minister had said that Sidhu’s yari and jhappi (friendship and hugs) with the Pakistani army chief would not be tolerated, especially by Army personnel, who were being killed by the ISI-backed terrorists.
“I am giving the reply about the working of my department as I have been singled out. Mayors in my department were appointed by the CM and I can’t question them,” Sidhu alleged.
“We have surplus funds today. We will utilise them for sewerage treatment plants, fire services, drinking water facility and in the next three years, the entire money will be utilised on the ground,” he said.
“Does anyone else (in Amarinder cabinet) have such a vision and so much transparency in his working?” he added. Sidhu said the Congress has not won the Bathinda seat for the last 40 years.
“Even Amarinder and his son Raninder Singh too have badly lost polls from Bathinda,” he said.
This time, Congress candidate Raja Warring Amrinder Singh lost to Union minister Harsimrat Kaur from the Bathinda seat. He said any decision of the government on changing his portfolio will be acceptable to him. “If I have made any mistake, I am ready to accept it 100 times,” Sidhu said.