The differences between Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu and Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh have come to the fore once again with the cricketer-turned-politician launching a verbal attack on his bête noire over power crisis in Punjab.
Sidhu’s tirade against Captain Amarinder Singh is understandable. Firstly, because Amarinder Singh is in charge of the power ministry and secondly, the two do not get along at all. Ironically, Sidhu was offered the charge of power ministry when he had hurriedly resigned in 2019 as Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minister.
Sidhu’s tirade against the CM has prompted Congress leaders like Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi to ask him to tone down his public speeches ahead of the state elections next year.
Raking up the power cuts issue, Sidhu tweeted: “There is no need for power cuts in Punjab or for the Chief Minister to regulate office timings or AC use of the common people … if we act in the right direction.”
Truth of Power Costs, Cuts, Power Purchase Agreements & How to give Free & 24 hour Power to the People of Punjab:- 1. There is No need for Power-Cuts in Punjab or for the Chief Minister to regulate office timings or AC use of the Common People … If we Act in the right direction
— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) July 2, 2021
As monsoon eludes Punjab and temperatures hover around 40 degrees Celsius, the Punjab government faces an unprecedented power crisis. To overcome the problem, the Chief Minister reduced office hours and cut supply to some industries.
Sidhu also targeted the previous Akali Dal-BJP government. He suggested that the state government should revisit the agreements signed by previous Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal with three private thermal plants.
The Amritsar East MLA alleged that the Punjab government was paying higher tariff for electricity because of its “over-dependence” on three private thermal plants.
“Punjab can purchase power from the national grid at much cheaper rates, but these Badal-signed PPAs are acting against Punjab’s public interest. Punjab may not be able to re-negotiate these PPAs due to them having legal protection from the courts, but there is a way forward..,” Sidhu wrote.
Sidhu said the state can overcome this crisis by bringing in a new legislation to scrap earlier deals and put a cap on power purchase costs to bring them at par with the National Power Exchange.
Sidhu further emphasized on the need to accept Renewable Energy. “Renewable energy is becoming cheaper along with being environmental-friendly, but Punjab’s potential from solar and biomass energy remains unutilised even though central financial schemes can be availed for these projects. PEDA (Punjab Energy Development Agency) spends its time just on energy efficiency awareness,” he said.
“Punjab already gives 9,000 crore power subsidy but Delhi gives only 1,699 crore as power subsidy. If Punjab copies Delhi Model, we will get merely 1,600-2,000 crore as subsidy. To better serve the People of Punjab – Punjab needs an Original Punjab Model, Not a copied Model!!”” he said in one of the series of tweets on Friday.
Sidhu also took the opportunity to taunt Captain Amrinder over his frequent meetings with Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and warned that he cannot be silenced.
Punjab goes to polls early next year.