What Punjab Chief Minister Said On Navjot Sidhu Resignation Shocker

Navjot Sidhu's resignation is seen as a huge blow, given the Gandhis were warned - by Amarinder Singh - about appointing the former cricketer as Punjab Congress chief

Charanjit Singh Channi's comments on farm laws come on a day of sudden upheaval in Punjab. (File)

Highlights

  • The Chief Minister said he has full confidence in Navjot Sidhu
  • Sources said Navjot Sidhu was upset over cabinet changes made by the CM.
  • Navjot Sidhu's resignation as Punjab Congress chief is seen as huge blow
Chandigarh:

Shortly after Navjot Sidhu stepped down as chief of the Congress' Punjab unit, Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi told reporters he "didn't know anything" about the dramatic twist in the party's leadership crisis in the poll-bound state.

"He is our chief and a good leader... what can I say when I don't know anything?" he told reporters, adding, "Sidhu saab para mera poora confidence hai (I have every confidence in Sidhu)."

Charanjit Channi was appointed as Punjab Chief Minister days after Amarinder Singh resigned. The state's first Dalit Sikh leader, Mr Channi was widely seen as being close to Mr Sidhu, with whom Mr Singh has a long-running and bitter public feud.

However, sources said Mr Sidhu grew upset about cabinet changes made Mr Channi.

The former cricketer was widely seen to act as a "Super Chief Minister" when it came to some decisions, but he was reportedly ignored in recent appointments seen as controversial.

He was also angry about key posts given to officials linked to the "sacrilege" case.

Sources said Mr Sidhu was also unhappy about his rival - Sukhjinder Randhawa - being assigned a key ministry. Mr Randhawa was an early candidate for the Chief Minister's post but was later made a Deputy Chief Minister.

Mr Channi also said "he (Navjot Sidhu) is not upset with me".

Navjot Sidhu's resignation is seen as a huge blow, given that the Gandhi family was warned - by Amarinder Singh - about appointing the former cricketer as Punjab Congress chief.

At his press conference Mr Channi also declared he would "lead the people of Punjab to Delhi" and sit outside Prime Minister Modi's residence to support the farmers' protest.

"I will lead the people of Punjab to Delhi... I will sit outside PM's residence in protest against the farm laws..." Mr Channi said.

The declaration has been seen as significant given opposition parties in Punjab repeatedly criticised the Congress over his predecessor - Amarinder Singh - not doing something similar.

Last week Amarinder Singh urged Mr Channi to ensure the state stands with the beleaguered farmers of Punjab "who have sacrificed their lives in our collective fight for justice".

The Congress in Punjab - where an Assembly election will be held next year - has stressed on its support for farmers in recent days, with Mr Channi's Council of Ministers meeting yesterday to pass a resolution in support of the farmers' 'Bharat Bandh' on Monday.

Mr Sidhu also tweeted, declaring the party's state unit stood firmly behind the farmers.

The pushback against the laws is widely seen as being driven by agriculturists from Punjab.

Amarinder Singh, meanwhile, is now in Delhi.

Buzz that he had a meeting lined up with top BJP leaders JP Nadda and Amit Shah triggered wild speculation the disgruntled veteran Congressman was set to switch sides.

Mr Singh's media advisor, Raveen Thukral, later tweeted to dispel such rumours.

On Amarinder Singh's Delhi visit, Mr Channi would only say: "He is our Punjab leader... he would go to Delhi in the interest of Punjab state."