Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Focus: Sidhu Quarantined By BJP After Attack On Akali Dal

By Harmeet Singh / INN Live

Once considered to be among the BJP’s most popular and articulate legislators, Navjot Singh Sidhu, the BJP MP from Amritsar, is increasingly becoming an embarrassment for the party.

The cricketer-turned-politician recently took on the Akali Dal leadership, putting the SAD-BJP alliance in the state at risk while jeopardizing his own position in the party.
Sidhu blamed Akali Dal president and Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and his brother-in-law Bikram Singh Majithia, who is revenue minister, for not doing enough for Amritsar’s development. He alleged the government had set a deadline for 2016 for the completion of city projects with an eye on the 2017 assembly poll while it has nothing to show for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leadership has not taken kindly to his remarks. While Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal has expressed  displeasure at Sidhu’s outburst. deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal has invited Sidhu to discuss his grievances. “Sidhu is like a younger brother to me. He is welcome to talk to me any time he wants to,” said Badal. He said the departments Sidhu was complaining about were the local bodies under BJP.

Former Himachal Pradesh CM and Punjab in charge Shanta Kumar has asked Sidhu to refrain from airing his grievances to the media. He had also asked Punjab BJP president Kamal Sharma to arrange a meeting between Sidhu and Badal to sort out their differences. But Sidhu does not seem to be in the mood for conciliation. He is miffed that Sukhbir Singh Badal came to Amritsar for launching projects worth Rs 2,000 crore but did not invite or involve him. Sidhu maintains he has raised a serious issue of discrimination. “My fight is not a personal one. I am saying all this in Amritsar’s interests,” says Sidhu.

However, Sidhu said he would meet CM Parkash Singh Badal whenever a meeting is convened. He had already demanded a judicial probe into the diversion of `60 crore funds meant for the development of Amritsar.  Sidhu also met Shanta Kumar to share some documents to substantiate his claims of diversion of funds and of discrimination being meted out to his constituency by the Akali Dal.

He is also upset that his own party is not supporting him as Amritsar BJP leaders Rajinder Mohan Singh Chhina and Laxmi Kanta Chawla were inducted as national vice-presidents and Sidhu was shunted out of the national executive. The name currently doing the rounds for the BJP Amritsar ticket is that of Arun Jaitley. It is quite unlikely now that Sidhu would feature among BJP’s star campaigners in the state for the next Lok Sabha elections. Sources said he had been informed of the BJP leadership’s displeasure over his “outburst”.

The Punjab Congress has grabbed this opportunity to state Sidhu’s statements have vindicated their stand.