Amarinder Singh says Pakistan PM requested him to induct his 'old friend' Navjot Sidhu into his cabinet
Amarinder Singh, who resigned as Chief Minister in September last year, claimed the Pakistan Prime Minister, in a request relayed through a person "known to them," referred to Sidhu as an "old friend" and threatened to remove him if he did not work.
In the midst of electioneering in the high-stakes electoral battle of Punjab, former state chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh said on Monday that he received a request from Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to "induct" Navjot Singh Sidhu into his cabinet after he was removed due to "incompetence." Amarinder Singh, who resigned as Chief Minister in September last year, claimed the Pakistan Prime Minister, in a request relayed through a person "known to them," referred to Sidhu as an "old friend" and threatened to remove him if he did not work. Though Amarinder Singh did not mention Pakistan's Prime Minister name, it is clear that he is referring to Imran Khan, whose swearing-in ceremony Sidhu attended.
Amarinder Singh had requested Sidhu, who is now the president of the Punjab Congress, to rethink his decision to attend the occasion. "Pakistan's Prime Minister has requested that Sidhu be appointed to your cabinet; he is an old friend of mine. If that doesn't work, you can get rid of him," Amarinder Singh stated during a news conference here.
Amarinder Singh's Punjab Lok Congress is running in the Punjab elections, which will be contested on February 20 in coalition with the BJP. Amarinder Singh "removed Sidhu from the cabinet because he was inept, unable, and completely worthless." "I believe it was two to three weeks later that I received a communication from someone we knew, he knew, and I knew...that there was a request to take Sidhu (in cabinet) if feasible. Remove him if he does not work," according to Amarinder Singh.
Amarinder Singh had a fractious breakup with the Congress and had slammed Sidhu, who the party leadership had chosen state Congress chairman. Sidhu, a cricketer-turned-politician, is viewed as a potential chief ministerial candidate, and there appears to be a power struggle between him and Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi.
Amarinder Singh and Sidhu have previously clashed, and tensions have subsequently risen as Sidhu travelled to Pakistan to take part in Imran Khan's inauguration as Prime Minister, despite being encouraged to reconsider his choice. Sidhu's embrace of Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa sparked outrage, and Amarinder Singh chastised him. Sidhu was eventually removed from the Local Bodies Department and resigned as a minister in the Amarinder Singh administration in June 2019.