Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh on Monday hit out at Navjot Singh Sidhu’s new political forum, calling it a “fishy” venture as he himself hasn’t quit the BJP and his wife is on record saying that she continues her association with the party she represents in the state Assembly.
In an interview to Hindustan Times, the Congress leader dismissed Sidhu’s fledgling Awaaz-e-Punjab as a “gang of four” that includes him and three state legislators: former India hockey captain Pargat Singh and Ludhiana’s Independent legislators Simarjit Singh Bains and Balwinder Singh Bains.
“There is something fishy going on...he’s putting together this group while he’s still in the BJP. His wife (Navjot Kaur Sidhu) is announcing that she continues to be in the BJP,” the former chief minister said.
“So we don’t know what’s going on. Two-three MLAs don’t make a party. Besides, Sidhu is no big shake, it’s the media that has hyped him up,” he said.
From his observations, it was evident that he considered the former cricketer a BJP prop for pilfering the anti-incumbency vote against the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine.
Watch: Political Editor Vinod Sharma’s exclusive interview with Capt Amarinder Singh
Disputing Sidhu’s charge that he was in a friendly contest with the Akalis, Amarinder referred to cases brought against him by the Parkash Singh Badal government. “I have gone up to the Supreme Court and back. Still they’re prosecuting me. Where’s the friendliness in it,” he asked.
Branding Arvind Kejriwal as an outsider running the show with non-Punjabis, Amarinder said he’d fight the Delhi chief minister from wherever he contests in Punjab. “We’d not allow any non-Punjabi to be the CM. Let anybody from Punjab come -- be it (AAP rebel) Sucha Singh Chhotepur or Sidhu. That’s their right,” he said. “Kejriwal has brought 52 people from Delhi, Haryana and Bihar. Why? Can’t he find a Punjabi?”
Amarinder bolstered his son of the soil argument by questioning the AAP leaders’ claims to probity and morality in public life. In the same go, he questioned Sidhu’s standing in the polity of Punjab except for the fact that he was thrice MP from Amritsar. ”Let him contest from Amritsar and he’d know where he stands today,” challenged the Congress veteran, who entered the Lok Sabha from Amritsar in 2014.
Making clear that he was contesting the last election of his political career spanning four decades, he did not answer upfront a question about the delay in his formal projection as the Congress’s CM candidate. “The polity in Punjab is in a state of flux with the split in the AAP and the creation of the gang of four,” he continued. “The people are wondering key kidhar jayen (where to go).”
In such a scenario, he agreed the Congress needed to dispel all speculation about its chief ministerial candidate. More so because the voters know that the Akalis have Badal and the AAP Kejriwal.