Faced with an embarrassing setback due to its MP Navjot Singh Sidhu’s conviction at a time when it had launched a campaign against UPA Government on the tainted ministers issue, the BJP made a face-saving attempt by seeking to downplay their man’s crime in comparison to that of JMM leader Shibu Soren convicted of murder.
"The ruling party appears to be very happy that like them the BJP too is faced with embarrassment.But there is vast difference between these two cases...We are not stepping back from our moral responsibility,” party spokesperson Sushma Swaraj asserted.
After Soren’s conviction and his resignation from Cabinet, the BJP had targetted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding an explanation in Parliament as to why he had been appointed as Union Minister in the first place when a criminal case had been pending against him.
Claiming a high moral ground , the saffron party tried to show how it had done the right thing by fielding Sidhu as an election candidate only after he had been acquitted by a lower court.
Besides, Swaraj pointed out, Soren had only resigned his Cabinet post and not from membership of the Lok Sabha like Sidhu .
Seeking to draw a fine distinction between the two cases, she also emphasised that while Soren had been found guilty of criminal conspiracy to murder, Sidhu had only been convicted for homicide not amounting to murder.
"At the most it was a mishap which led death of a person," Swaraj said at a news conference in Parliament House where Sidhu was present.
Yet, despite the fact that the former cricketer’s action in beating up a person had resulted in his death,she made it clear that there would be no setback to his position in the party where he would continue to be a “respected member”.Sidhu’s services would be fully utilised in the forthcoming Punjab Assembly election and in other states as well, she stated.
Sidhu himself appeared quite unruffled and even quipped one of his famous ‘Sidhuisms’ for which he is known in cricket commentaries.When a reporter asked him if such an incident could happen again at his hands, he shot back in his characteristic style: "Guru,forget these ifs and buts.It is just like saying if my aunt had a moustache, she would have been my uncle."
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