Punjab Advocate General APS Deol has hit back at Congress leader Navjot Sidhu – who has demanded he resign for representing two accused cops in the 2015 sacrilege and police firing case.
Mr Deol slammed the former cricketer for “repeated utterances (that) seek to derail the earnest efforts of the state to ensure justice in the ‘drugs matter’ and the ‘sacrilege cases'”.
He also accused Mr Sidhu – whose attacks on his own government augur ill ahead of next year’s elections – of “spreading misinformation to gain a political advantage over his political colleagues”.
“There is a concerted attempt by vested interests to malign the functioning of the Congress party in view of the coming elections in Punjab for their selfish political gain, by politicizing the constitutional office of the Advocate General of Punjab,” Mr Deol wrote in a brief statement issued Saturday morning.
A senior advocate of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, APS Deol was appointed in September after Atul Nanda resigned; this was after the exit of Amarinder Singh as Punjab Chief Minister.
Yesterday Mr Sidhu told reporters he would withdraw his resignation as chief of the Congress’ Punjab unit – he quit in September, a move that shocked the Congress after it supported him in his bitter feud Amarinder Singh – but only if Chief Minister Charanjit Channi accepted APS Deol’s resignation.
“I have taken back my resignation… When a new Advocate General is appointed, I will take charge.”
On Tuesday, sources said Mr Channi refused to accept Mr Deol’s resignation – a move seen as a firm signal to Mr Sidhu that it the Chief Minister, and not the MLA, who was in charge of the government.
A source told NDTV “Mr Sidhu’s speech attacking the state government is said to be the reason”.
Predictably that infuriated Mr Sidhu even more.
“How can a lawyer who got bail for Sumedh Saini be Advocate General and a person like IPS Sahota (Punjab’s police chief, Iqbal Singh Sahota was the head of a SIT, formed by the then Akali Dal government, that investigated the sacrilege case) be the DGP,” he fumed yesterday.
Mr Sidhu had resigned as Punjab Congress chief in a huff in September over Mr Deol and Mr Sahota’s appointments, exacerbating the party’s leadership crisis in a state that votes next year.
The Congress has already lost Amarinder Singh – as Chief Minister and a party leader, and must now face him as an influential rival politician – after his spat with Mr Sidhu.
Mr Sidhu’s elevation was meant to resolve the infighting, but that move hasn’t worked as yet, with the former India cricket star taking relentless potshots at his party and Chief Minister Channi.