For the past three weeks, the otherwise firebrand minister, went incommunicado. He was reportedly in Delhi, but had “refused to get in touch” with anyone from Chandigarh. During his absence, his close aides maintained that he was not talking to anyone because of a “dental procedure he underwent”.
Highly-placed sources in the government said that Sidhu had even refused to talk to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who tried to reach out to him twice. With elections to the Lok Sabha on May 19 being perceived as a litmus test for the Congress, the Chief Minister has been concerned over almost all development works, approval of building plans and grant of change in land use not being done, besides administrative work suffering.
During Sidhu’s long period of absence, post facto approvals were given for whatever little work that was allowed by the department, reportedly after the Chief minister intervened.
Sidhu’s rather long absence from work now and the alleged delay in his decision making has been a sore point within the state unit of Congress too. This fact had earlier been discussed by the Congress MLAs with the CM during their meeting held earlier this year.
When asked about his role in the Congress during the general election, Sidhu said, “I have not been assigned any role by the Congress High Command, including campaigning for the party.
I am waiting for them to as assign me a role appropriate to my stature.” Sidhu added that he had never sought any ticket to contest the election. “I was sounded well in advance about my role in campaigning. I have already told my party that I will not contest from anywhere other than Amritsar. I had left the BJP only because they wanted me to contest from Kurukshetra,” he said.
Sidhu’s name was also not included in the list of star campaigners released by the Congress party.
His wife, Navjot Kaur Sidhu, has also not been granted the party ticket for contesting the Lok Sabha polls from Chandigarh -- a seat she had been eyeing for herself. She has also expressed her “disillusionment” over not being considered for the party ticket from City Beautiful , after the name of Pawan Bansal was announced yesterday.