Strongly criticising his Cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu for his comments against Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, Punjab minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa hit out at the cricketer-turned-politician, asking him to quit if he cannot work with the Chief Minister.
Mr Sidhu should quit as a minister in the Punjab Cabinet, since he has refused to acknowledge the leadership of the Chief Minister, Mr Bajwa told reporters.
“Since he does not know who the captain of the ship is, he should be removed from the Cabinet,” Housing Minister Bajwa said.
Mr Bajwa is the fifth minister to jump to the Chief Minister’s defence.
Forest Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot on Monday had also sought Mr Sidhu’s resignation.
Their remarks came after the Chief Minister himself publicly criticised Mr Sidhu on Sunday for damaging the Congress’ poll prospects with his ill-timed comments against him and the party leadership in the state.
“If he was a real Congressman, he should have chosen a better time to air his grievances instead of just ahead of voting in Punjab,” said the Chief Minister in an informal interaction with reporters in Chandigarh.
Mr Sidhu had accused the Chief Minister of being responsible for the denial of a poll ticket to his wife Navjot Kaur from Chandigarh.
During the campaign, he also tried to corner his own government by questioning why no criminal case was registered against former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son and former Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal in connection with the 2015 sacrilege and police-firing incidents.
“It was not his election alone but that of the entire Congress. It is for the high command to decide on any action against Sidhu, but the Congress, as a party, does not tolerate indiscipline,” Amarinder Singh said.
Indirectly hitting out at Mr Sidhu, Congress candidate from Anandpur Sahib and former Union minister Manish Tewari also advised him that it would be better for him “if he first understands the culture of the Congress”.
Coming to Mr Sidhu’s support, Aam Aadmi Party rebel legislator Sukhpal Singh Khaira said, “There is no need to bend. The PDA (Punjab Democratic Alliance) will support you.”
The PDA comprises Khaira-led Punjab Ekta Party (PEP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Lok Insaaf Party (LIP), the Punjab Manch led by suspended AAP MP Dharamvira Gandhi, the Communist Party of India and the Revolutionary Marxist Party of India (RMPI).
Earlier in the day, Union Minister and BJP candidate from Amritsar Hardeep Singh Puri also took a jibe at the ongoing war of words between Amarinder Singh and his Cabinet Minister Navjot Sidhu, saying, “…the cat is out of the bag”.