“What was not done to downsize me? I was ignored repeatedly. First, there were people from the Akali Dal who wanted to delete me, and now I am expected to campaign. I am firm on my stand,” Navjot Singh Sidhu is blunt over the phone from Delhi on Wednesday.
Back in India after a cricket commentary assignment in Bangladesh, BJP’s Amritsar MP Sidhu is busy campaigning in Delhi, and still sticking to his stance that he won’t campaign for his replacement, Arun Jaitley, in Amritsar or anywhere else in Punjab.
Stressing that there was no bitterness towards his “political guru” Jaitley, Sidhu remains combative against party ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal. “I know the games of the Badals: ‘Heads I win, tails you lose.’”
Sidhu had earlier too alleged that he had not been given the ticket as Badal did not want it. The SAD patriarch may have rubbished the allegation and even invited Sidhu to Amritsar, but Sidhu refuses to budge: “The collapse of character starts with compromise.
There is no compromise on principles.” He adds a couplet: “Asulon pe aanch aaye toh takrana zaruri hai; jo zinda ho toh phir zinda nazar aana zaroori hai.” (Imperative it is to fight when principles are challenged; if you are alive indeed, you must appear alive).
To a question about Jaitley’s comments about “utilising Sidhu’s potential”, the former cricketer says, “Had I ever asked for anything from the party? Even when I contested the first time in 2004, I had never asked for the ticket. This time, too, if I am not contesting, it was the decision of the party.”
Pressed about speculation that he might eventually canvass in Punjab, even Amritsar, Sidhu categorically refuses, “There is no question of campaigning in Punjab or Amritsar… What would I say to the people?
How can I come and stand with people who did press conferences against me and scuttled my projects. They were the ones who wanted my ouster from Punjab.”He claims that by not coming to Amritsar he is aiding Jaitley: “I am a well-wisher of Jaitley saab and have high regard for him.”