In Punjab Chief Minister’s Truce With Navjot Sidhu, Top Lawyer Is Out



Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Channi¬†has¬†accepted APS Deol’s resignation as Advocate-General, in a move that meets sulking Congress leader Navjot Sidhu’s demand and signals a potential truce between the ruling party’s top two leaders in the state ahead of next year’s election.

“The Punjab cabinet has accepted the resignation of Advocate-General APS Deol,” Mr Channi told reporters this evening, with Mr Sidhu sitting by his side. The vacancy will be filled by tomorrow, he said.

Acceptance of Mr Deol’s resignation comes days after the Chief Minister appeared to back his government’s top lawyer, and underlined his confidence in their ability to get results.

The vote of confidence was seen as significant since it was the first time Chief Minister Channi publicly spoke about the 2015 sacrilege case that is at the core of the stand-off with Mr Sidhu.

Navjot Sidhu – whose bitter public feud with Amarinder Singh pushed the veteran politician into quitting, first as Chief Minister and then as a Congress leader – had demanded APS Deol be fired for representing two accused cops in the 2015 sacrilege and police firing case.

In September Mr Sidhu resigned as Punjab Congress chief over this issue.

Last week Mr Sidhu said he would take back that resignation – if APS Deol were sacked.

Mr Deol had been made the Punjab government’s top lawyer by Chief Minister Channi after his predecessor, Atul Nanda, quit following Amarinder Singh’s resignation.

His appointment, as well as that of Iqbal Singh Sahota as Punjab’s top cop, were decided by Mr Channi and his new government, but were widely seen as having infuriated Mr Sidhu.

Sources had earlier told NDTV Mr Channi initially refused Mr Deol’s offer of resignation – a move seen as a signal that it was the Chief Minister, and not the MLA, in charge.

Last week Mr Deol slammed Mr Sidhu 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 election – of “spreading misinformation to gain a political advantage over 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.