CHANDIGARH: Annoyed at being ignored by the Congress leadership in the selection of Mayoral candidates in Amritsar, Punjab Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Tuesday stayed away from the election of the Amritsar Mayor.
Sidhu, the Minister for Local Government under which the municipal corporations (and Mayors) come, had made his displeasure known regarding the mayoral elections in Amritsar on Monday by saying that "he did not go anywhere uninvited".
Sidhu is said to have been upset at being ignored by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and state Congress chief Sunil Kumar Jakhar as the party shortlisted candidates for the posts of Mayor, senior Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Amritsar.
The development has brought out the fissures within the ruling Congress in Punjab.
Karamjit Singh Rintu, a first-time Councillor, Raman Bakshi and Younas Kumar were elected to the posts of Mayor, senior Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayor respectively on Tuesday.
At least 17 Councillors, said to be in the Sidhu camp, also skipped the oath-taking function of the new Mayor.
Punjab Rural Development and Panchayat Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, who is considered close to Amarinder Singh, was present at the mayoral election.
Bajwa, informed sources said, tried to contact Sidhu before the election and even went to the residence of the cricketer-turned-politician but could not meet him.
Sidhu had earlier admitted that he was not consulted by the party on choosing the next mayor for Amritsar.
"I go uninvited only to the Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple). Otherwise, I don't go anywhere uninvited. I don't want to say anything more. I have said what I had to say," a visibly annoyed Sidhu told the media on Monday.
He said the Chief Minister could do as he wished on the selection of mayoral candidates and added that he got information about the selected candidates through newspapers.
Bajwa tried to underplay Sidhu's annoyance saying the Minister (Sidhu) could be busy in other official work.
On the issue of Sidhu not being invited to the oath-taking function of the new Mayor, Bajwa said that Sidhu's own Department (Local government) was the host and hence there was no question of inviting him.
Amritsar is the political home of Sidhu and he is the Congress legislator from the Amritsar-east assembly seat.
Sanjeev Bittu was elected on Tuesday as the Mayor of Patiala, the home town and constituency of Amarinder Singh. Bittu is a loyalist of the Chief Minister's family.