Chandigarh: Taking a tough stance, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh categorically said on Tuesday that if his former Cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu “wants to contest against him, then he is free to do so but that would only lead to Sidhu meeting the fate of General J.J. Singh who had lost his security deposit”.
In an interview to a private channel, the Chief Minister challenged Sidhu to clearly spell out whether he is a member of the Congress party.
“If yes, then his continuing rant against his Chief Minister and the government amounts to gross indiscipline,” said Amarinder Singh, adding that the Congress dissident ought to choose the side he is on because “he is indulging in breaking the discipline of the party, and the BJP won’t take him back and as far as the SAD is concerned, they are also peeved with him”.
Without mincing words, the Chief Minister lauded Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) President Sunil Jakhar and said that he “is doing a good job and discharging his responsibility well so there is no question of Sidhu being appointed in Sunil Jakhar’s place”.
“It has been just four years since Sidhu joined the Congress and as such there are many people who have started their career with the Youth Congress who are much senior to him. So how can he be given the post of Deputy Chief Minister or PPCC President,” Amarinder Singh asked.
On the issue of Cabinet minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Jakhar tendering their resignations over the state government’s handling of the 2015 sacrilege cases, the Chief Minister said that he had rejected the same.
Referring to the recent high court verdict quashing the Special Investigating Team (SIT) probing the Kotkapura firing, the Chief Minister said that a new SIT has been approved which would take the case to its logical conclusion.
However, he also said that the judgement has gone beyond its brief and it is not a judicial but a political judgement.
On the issue of delay in the case, Amarinder Singh clarified that the recent judgement of the high court had nothing to do with the sacrilege cases and was related to the firing at Kotkapura.
The sacrilege cases are going on and already a number of arrests have been made, he said.
The Chief Minister said it was the previous SAD government which had handed over the cases to the CBI and the present Congress government had to approach the Supreme Court to get back the case files.
Coming to the issue of oxygen supply in the state in view of the Covid pandemic, Amarinder Singh said that Punjab needs 300 MT oxygen daily, but there has been no positive response from the Central government.
He further said that the state government is leaving no stone unturned to ensure best possible medical care for the Covid patients and it has adequate number of L2 and L3 beds and is in the process of preparing 2,200 more.
“On the vaccination front, we have only one day of stock left and that is why the health department has been directed to order 30 lakh doses of Covishield for the 18-45 age group,” the Chief Minister said.