Amarinder defends government’s stand on minister Sidhu

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Chandigarh, April 14 (IANS) With speculation rife about internal differences being behind his government seeking in the Supreme Court that state minister Navjot Singh Sidhu be convicted in a three-decade-old road rage case, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday defended the government’s stand in the case saying that it was “the only legal option available before it”.

Amarinder Singh on Friday expressed the hope that “the judge would take into account the minister’s contribution to the society and the country in his final verdict”.

“Though the government could not have taken any other stand in the apex court, other than what it had been taken in the trial and high court earlier, Sidhu deserved the court’s consideration,” said the Chief Minister, who is drawing flak for letting down his own minister.

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“Had we done so, we would have been accused of lying either now or earlier,” he quipped, adding that he did not believe in playing politics in judicial cases.

The Punjab government counsel had told the apex court on Thursday that Sidhu’s conviction by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, done in 2006, should be upheld.

“Sidhu, whom I have known since the latter was a child, was a person totally above board, who went out of the way to help people in need,” said Amarinder Singh, rejecting charges of not liking the minister.

Amarinder Singh, whose functioning style and inaccessibility has left a lot of bitterness among Congress legislators and ministers after he came to power in March last year, is facing political controversy on the issue of handling the Sidhu matter and also dealing with Punjab Congress chief and Gurdaspur MP Sunil Jakhar.

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Jakhar was miffed earlier this week after he was asked by Amarinder Singh’s security to deposit his mobile phone with them (security) when he was going to meet the Chief Minister here.

“I am not unhappy with any of the party leaders, as was being made out in a section of the media,” Amarinder said on Friday, pointing out that he had always personally supported Sidhu and also Jakhar.

On the reported incident relating to Jakhar leaving without meeting him two days back, the Chief Minister said state Congress chief was scheduled to meet him but an unscheduled meeting came up.

“Though Jakhar was asked by CPS (Chief Principal Secretary) Suresh Kumar to go into the room where the said meeting was being held, he decided not to wait but to leave, as he might have had some other work,” said the Chief Minister.

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Amarinder Singh pointed out that he had always pushed Jakhar’s case for leadership in the party, and even as the Congress candidate for Gurdaspur by-election.

–IANS

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