Navjot Singh Sidhu on Tuesday quit as the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief, triggering other resignations and plunging the party into a fresh crisis just months ahead of the assembly elections.
Hours after his resignation, Razia Sultana, a part of the new 18-member ministry led by Charanjit Singh Channi, too put in her papers, expressing solidarity with the former cricketer.
Punjab Congress general secretary Yoginder Dhingra and treasurer Gulzar Inder Chahal followed with their resignations.
Amid a flurry of political activity, several state Congress leaders visited Sidhu at his home in Patiala.
Sidhu, 57, who announced his resignation shortly after the allocation of portfolios to the new ministers, said he remains with the party.
He was appointed the party's state unit president on July 18 amid a bitter power tussle with Amarinder Singh, who stepped down as the CM 10 days back while accusing the party high command of humiliating him.
Sidhu didn't elaborate why he has quit.
But speculation in party circles ranges from his displeasure over the allocation of the home portfolio to Deputy CM Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa to the appointments of the acting police chief and the state advocate general by the new CM.
'The collapse of a man's character stems from the compromise corner, I can never compromise on Punjab's future and the agenda for the welfare of Punjab,' he said in his letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
'Therefore, I hereby resign as the president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. Will continue to serve the Congress,' the letter on Twitter said.
Amarinder Singh, who had called Sidhu 'dangerous' and 'anti-national', was quick to react.
'I told you so, he is not a stable man and not fit for the border state of Punjab,' he tweeted.
Former Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar tweeted, 'It's just not cricket !'
'What stands compromised in this entire 'episode' is the faith reposed in the (outgoing?) PCC President by the Congress Leadership. No amount of grand standing can justify this breach of trust placing his benefactors in a peculiar predicament,' he posted.
The abrupt resignation took place on a day Amarinder Singh was headed to Delhi, and the day before Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal was scheduled to visit Punjab to make some 'big announcements'.
Singh's travel plan had triggered speculation that he might meet some Bharatiya Janata Party leaders.
His media aide, however, said the Congress veteran had come to the capital on a personal visit and will vacate Kapurthala House, where the Punjab CM stays during trips to Delhi.
In her resignation letter to Chief Minister Channi, Razia Sultana said she is quitting the ministry 'in solidarity' with Sidhu.
Her husband Mohd Mustafa, a former IPS officer, is his 'principal strategic adviser'.
She held the transport department in the Amarinder Singh-led government.
Channi, once considered a Sidhu loyalist, claimed he was not aware of his resignation.
'I have not received such information,' he told reporters.
Asked if Sidhu was upset over the allocation of the home portfolio to Randhawa and some other appointments, he said, 'We will sit with Sidhu Saheb and talk to him. He is our president and a good leader.'
Congress leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira who went to Sidhu's home in Patiala urged him to reconsider his decision.
He suggested to reporters that Sidhu must have taken a stand against corruption. When his suggestions were 'not accepted' by the party, he must have felt that he did not to want to be a 'silent' state party president, according to Khaira.
In Chandigarh, Cabinet minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa said the high command is seized of the matter and expressed confidence that it would be sorted out by Wednesday.
Pargat Singh, Razia Sultana, PPCC working presidents Kuljit Nagra, Sukhwinder Singh Danny, MLAs Bawa Henry and Inderbir Singh Bolaria, and MP Amar Singh were among the party leaders who arrived at Sidhu's Patiala home.
Punjab AAP chief Bhagwant Mann accused the Congress of 'insulting' Punjab and its people in their 'fight for the chair'.
'The Congress has crossed all limits in the battle for chair and pride. Punjab has never been so disgraced,' he said in a statement.
In Delhi, the AAP claimed that Sidhu resigned because a Dalit was made the chief minister.
BJP leader Tarun Chugh said, 'The Congress in Punjab is in complete mess and the state is paying a heavy price for the chaos.'
Sidhu is said to have been upset over some recent appointments.
Rana Gurjit Singh was included in the ministry despite protests by some party leaders over his 'tainted' past.
He had to resign from the previous Amarinder Singh ministry over allegations of impropriety in the auction of sand-mining contracts.
Sidhu was also said to be unhappy that MLA Kuljit Singh Nagra was denied a berth in the Channi ministry.
Then there was the appointment of A P S Deol as the state's new Advocate General. As a senior advocate, Deol was a counsel for former Director General of Police Sumedh Singh Saini.
A few days ago, senior Indian Police Service officer Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota was given the additional charge of Director General of Police of Punjab, amid reports that Sidhu was batting for 1986-batch IPS officer Siddharth Chattopadhyaya.
Though Sidhu loyalist argue that he was being 'ignored', his rivals and the opposition saw him as a leader who enjoyed the confidence of the Congress high command -- and would overshadow Channi as the state elections neared.
Here is Sidhu's resignation letter:-