The Akali Dal demanded action against Navjot Singh Sidhu for letting his wife interfere in official work
Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu has landed in the middle of a controversy after his wife was seen in a photograph handing over orders revoking the suspension of a municipal officer.
The opposition Akali Dal says it is evidence that the minister’s wife was running the show in his absence. “You are suspending people at office and letters revoking the suspensions are being issued at home. What is this?” said Daljit Singh of the Akali Dal. He said Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh should intervene.
Mr Sidhu, the Punjab minister for local government, tourism and The cricketer-turned-politician hasn’t spoken on the row but wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu did come up with a statement on Tuesday. It was meant to be a rebuttal but confirmed that she had played a key role in getting the suspended officer’s name cleared in an inquiry instituted at her instance.
But first, the denial.
Ms Sidhu said she only interacted with people who came to meet the minister to get their grievances redressed. “I come here to hear the public, not to do official work. That too for a day or two in a week,” she said, according to news agency ANI.
“See, I have no official file. I sit with general public. What they give to me in writing, I pass it on to the department for action,” she said.
On the photograph with a municipal officer, Ms Sidhu said the official, who she described as a whistle-blower, had come to her with the official order revoking his suspension and wanted a picture taken because she had helped him.
“I was the one who initiated (the process to reinstating him)…. I told the minister that he has been wrongly suspended because what he is saying, you didn’t … the department didn’t listen to him very carefully. That he was actually a whistle-blower…,” she said, according to ANI.
“So I felt that it is very wrong. So I told the director to order a reinvestigation (last year),” she said, lamenting that it had taken so long for the department’s clean chit to come in.
Ms Sidhu, who was a BJP legislator in the last assembly when her husband too was in the same party, doesn’t hold a public office. She had followed her husband out of the BJP after the 54-year-old cricketer-turned-politician resigned, briefly flirted with the Aam Aadmi Party before settling down with the Congress right ahead of 2017 Punjab assembly elections. Mr Sidhu was seen to be angling for the Deputy Chief Minister’s post but later accepted the less weighty local government department that oversees municipal bodies in the state.