Chandigarh: As his Cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu is yet to take charge of his new Power portfolio, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday took crucial decisions relating to electricity shortage that was mainly affecting sowing of paddy in the state.
An ‘adamant’ Sidhu has not assumed the new charge since June 6 when he was divested of charge of Local Government and Tourism and Cultural Affairs portfolios in a cabinet reshuffle, the first after the Lok Sabha election results.
He has been given Power and New and Renewable Energy Sources.
Since then Sidhu has been in ‘hibernation’. He had met party President Rahul Gandhi, and party leaders Priyanka Gandhi and Ahmed Patel in New Delhi and apprised them of his position after he was divested of his key portfolios.
The Chief Minister has been monitoring the electricity situation over the past few weeks and this meeting was called to review the power situation and progress of other works relating to the Power Ministry, a senior official told IANS.
He said reports were coming from across the state over the power shortage that was mainly hampering the transplantation of paddy.
“So the Chief Minister has called a meeting to review the situation and issued necessary directions,” the official added.
Both opposition parties — the Akali Dal and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) — have been raking up the issue of power shortage in the state and blaming Sidhu’s absence for this.
AAP has already started statewide protests against power shortage and termed Sidhu’s absence “unfortunate”.
“It is unfortunate that Navjot Singh Sidhu has not assumed his new charge that is affecting the common man badly,” AAP legislator Aman Arora said.
Sidhu’s cabinet colleague has urged him to either assume charge or quit.
Rural Development Minister Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa said Sidhu was losing grace by delaying to take the new office.
“He is an intelligent man and can contribute a lot to his new department. Either he should join or quit. There is no grace in staying away from the department,” he said.
Bajwa is a close confidante of the Chief Minister.
Barring four, there were changes in the portfolios of all the ministers as a result of the reallocation, which Amarinder Singh said, would help further streamline the governing system and processes and bring more transparency and efficacy to various departments.
Sidhu had then said his department was singled out publicly for the Lok Sabha loss, but since then, he and his wife Navjot Kaur, a former legislator, have not made any public comment.