Former BJP parliamentarian Navjot Singh Sidhu took potshots at the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leadership while campaigning for his party’s candidate Rajinder Singh Deshujodha here on Wednesday.
Though he took no names, Sidhu alleged that the SAD had backstabbed its coalition partner (BJP) in Punjab. “I would not spare the back-stabbers,” he announced.
The former cricketer, who is currently co-hosting a TV comedy show, was also at his wisecracking best. “In Punjab, they (SAD leaders) are like pappi-jaffi (close friends) with us, but in Haryana, they are playing kabaddi with us,” he said, leaving the crowd in splits.
Sidhu said the SAD had formed the government in Punjab with the BJP’s support but in Haryana, the Akalis were supporting the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), whose tainted leaders were in jail.
“How can a person in jail become the chief minister,” Sidhu asked, referring to jailed INLD supremo Om Prakash Chautala.
Recalling his ‘ouster’ from Amritsar, Sidhu said, “I won the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat three times in a row. When the fourth election came, they (Akalis) got jittery and planned my ouster (denial of ticket), but I am not afraid of anyone.”
Apparently under Akali pressure, the BJP had replaced sitting MP Sidhu with Arun Jaitley from the Amritsar seat in this year’s Lok Sabha polls. The move proved disastrous as Jaitley was comprehensively defeated by Congress stalwart Capt Amarinder Singh.
Dash of poetry
Sidhu’s speech was also laced with couplets of Bulle Shah and Mirza Ghalib. Earlier, he landed at Kalanwali in a helicopter, wearing a brown salwar-kurta and a maroon turban.
Calling himself a soldier of the BJP, Sidhu was all praise for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Compare the 10 years of the Modi government in Gujarat with the Congress’ 60-year rule in the country,” he asked the gathering. He predicted that the BJP would win 50 assembly seats (out of 90) and form the government in Haryana.
Sidhu addressed six elections rallies in Haryana on Tuesday and Wednesday. In contrast, he had stayed away from campaigning during the 2012 assembly polls as well as the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in Punjab.
Referring to the Mahabharata, he quipped, “Like Dhritarashtra, there are leaders who are so blinded by love for their sons that don’t see anything else.”
Targeting the SAD and the INLD, Sidhu said the parties had looted Punjab and Haryana. “Be it the transport or sand business, they control everything, and when somebody opposes them, they get them booked and even beat them. My supporters were also booked, but I would not bow,” he declared.
Some Sidhu supporters were keen to know when he would take over as the Punjab BJP president. “The time has not come for that,” was Sidhu’s reply.
Earlier, speaking on the occasion, BJP candidate Deshujodha a postgraduate school teacher said that SAD with its election symbol scales have weighed drugs in Punjab. He adds that Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal came to seek votes every five years and don’t show up after that. “Why do you believe in outsiders,” he questioned. Raising the issue of SYL and Haryana Sikh Gurdwara management Committee (HSGMC) he said, SAD denied right of river water and separate gurdwara committee to the Sikhs of Haryana.