Hours before the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) picked senior party leader Arun Jaitley as its candidate from Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, threetime sitting MP Navjot Singh Sidhu had yet again rejected all alternative options and made it clear that he would not contest the LS polls at all if not fielded from the holy city.
Sidhu had already turned down the offer to contest from Kurukshetra, Chandigarh or Delhi West, besides the option of going to the Rajya Sabha.
Since there was talk that BJP’s alliance partner Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and a certain group in the Punjab BJP wanted Sidhu replaced by Jaitley, the cricketer-turnedpolitician had toughened his stand.
It was Jaitley who had brought Sidhu into politics, but Sidhu has been on a collision course with leaders of the BJP’s partner SAD in Punjab over the past year.
“If the party has made up its mind to field Jaitley saab from Amritsar, I welcome him since he is my guru,” Sidhu had told HT from New Delhi on the phone, “But I want to make it clear to the party that I will then not contest the Lok Sabha polls.”
About the Rajya Sabha offer, he had said, “I have contested three Lok Sabha polls but never asked for the ticket. There is no point in going to the Rajya Sabha.”
The MP, who was immediately called to the BJP office in Delhi after he made his stand clear to the party, had further said, “The BJP has been offering me different constituencies, but I am firm. I always respected him (CM Parkash Singh Badal) like my father) and people know that.”
Notably, ever since the BJP MP had accused the Badals in Punjab of ignoring his pet projects, their relationship has gone from bad to worse. SAD and BJP leaders led by the saffron party’s cabinet minister, Anil Joshi, had been demanding Jaitley’s candidature from Amritsar.
Sidhu has won thrice from Amritsar, but the victory margin went down from more than a lakh votes in 2004 to around 67,000 in 2007 and merely 6,700 the last time.
‘WON’T LEAVE BJP’
Sidhu, who met party president Rajnath Singh, senior leaders LK Advani and Arun Jaitley in the party office in New Delhi, ahead also told HT, “I just told them not to offer me anything but tell what I can leave for the party. The party has taken back whatever it gave to me.”
But, replying to a question, Sidhu had insisted he would stay with the BJP and there was no question of leaving the party.