Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, who has been inducted as a cabinet minister in the Captain Amarinder Singh-led government in Punjab, on Friday courted a controversy when he said that he will continue to participate in a popular comedy talk show and simultaneously discharge his duties as a minister.
When asked whether he would participate in the Kapil Sharma show ‘Comedy Nights with Kapil’, Sidhu said, “If people don’t have the problem, why do you worry? If I do a TV show, I will leave at 3 from here and will return here before anyone wakes up.”
The remark by the former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP evoked mixed reactions within the BJP camp with a leader and actor-turned-politician Shatrugan Sinha showing support, while party MP Babul Supriyo, who is a Bollywood singer, condemning Sidhu.
Speaking to ANI, Sinha said, “If the government permits, and if he has enough free time to spare then I don’t see any harm. When I was a cabinet minister, under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, I did a movie named ‘Aan: Men at Work’. I did the movie after I got permission from Vajpayee. Hence it is up to the Punjab government.”
“I am an entertainer myself hence I won’t be hypocritical. I too sometimes sing, but I do for a cause; one can do (work) as long as it doesn’t intervene in your work as a minister. Being a minister, you are a government employee and cannot take any money outside your salary. Sidhu is an intelligent man. He knows his duties and responsibilities. We would like to see how he can manage to do both works simultaneously,” Supriyo told ANI.
Senior advocate and Rajya Sabha lawmaker KTS Tulsi also criticized the cricketer turned politician’s decision stating that Sidhu, being a minister, “cannot participate in the show as it would affect the dignity of the office of the minister”.
“I don’t think it is permissible. Under the code of conduct both for the ministers at the Centre and the states, the minister has to divest himself with all the connections and he cannot receive any money in cash or kind for any purpose whatsoever, it can’t be charitable also. I don’t think he will be able to charge any money. He ought to understand the fact that there is a certain dignity attached to the office and he cannot be allowed to lower the stature of the office of the minister,” Tulsi said.
Sidhu was on Tuesday allotted the portfolios of local government, tourism and cultural affairs, and archives and museums.