Former India hockey captain Pargat Singh has refuted suggestions that the Awaaz-e-Punjab forum he has launched with Navjot Sidhu was a BJP-Akali prop to split the anti-incumbency vote to diminish the prospects of the Congress and the Aam Adami Party.
In an interview to Hindustan Times, Pargat said he was in politics to serve the people. “Sidhu (former Test cricketer) is a (television) celebrity and I captained India for ten years. We cannot be anybody’s B-Team,” he averred, ruling out any truck with the Akali-BJP combine even after elections.
Off camera, Pagat said the forum was in touch with AAP rebel Sucha Singh Chhotepur. Is he hopeful of something working out? “Yes, definitely,” he replied.
If the Awaaz forum does manage to rope in Chhotepur, who was AAP’s Punjab convener, it might emerge as a formidable player in the state’s electoral that includes the BSP besides Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP and traditional rivals Akali Dal and the Congress.
On the question of a post-poll choice between the Congress and the AAP, the renegade Akali MLA from Jalandhar Cantonment was ambivalent. He said the options will be weighed in the interest of Punjab and its people.
Pargat is holding the Forum’s reins in the absence of Sidhu, who’s away to Mumbai to wrap his contractual obligations for television shows. He said the former Amritsar MP, who formally quit the BJP Tuesday with his legislator wife Navjot Kaur, will be actively involved in the fledgling forum’s affairs from October 1 onwards.
The couple resigned their membership of the BJP after Congress leader Captain Amarinder Singh questioned their political objective behind launching a new platform without a clean break from the saffron party. There’s something “fishy” going on, he had said in an interview to this newspaper last Monday.
Pargat said currently the Awaaz-e-Punjab was working on a vision paper based on which it will conduct its politics to provide the state a robust alternative. He did not elaborate but said a lot of good people were in the “queue” to join the forum.
He said the forum’s leadership wouldn’t ever compromise on probity in public life. Without naming the ageing Parkash Singh Badal and Amarinder Singh, he said: “ Politics isn’t our bread and butter. We aren’t among those who’d latch on to power at the ripe age of 90 or 85.....”