As he takes on BJP stalwart Arun Jaitley in Amritsar, former Punjab chief minister and now Congress Lok Sabha candidate Capt Amarinder Singh seems to have found an unusual ally in the opposition camp.
Divided sharply over cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Sidhu, who was replaced by the BJP despite being the threetime sitting MP, some factions of the Amritsar BJP are providing Amarinder much-needed feedback and dope on Jaitley, who is contesting his first LS poll.
A Sidhu sympathiser in the BJP, Amarinder claims, has revealed the “machinations” of Jaitley within the party.
The note purportedly sent to him reads, “Arun Jaitley has risen in life by stabbing his own partymen, be it Sushma Swaraj, Uma Bharti, Madan Lal Khurana or SS Ahluwalia. Former Delhi CM Sahib Singh Verma used to say: ‘ When you shake hands with Jaitley you should count your fingers as some would be missing.’ He is also known to plant stories against his own partymen in the media, and is an agent of the corporate sector which has helped him in his law practice.”
Amarinder, who had earlier said he would not raise the issue of Sidhu as it was the BJP’s internal matter, while speaking to HT on Monday during his visit to Chandigarh to prepare his nomination papers said, “Many in Amritsar are angry at the treatment meted out to Sidhu.”
He added, “The Congress is united while the Amritsar BJP is divided between two factions — those for and against Sidhu. It is well known that he fell out with the Akalis over scutlling of Amritsar’s development projects.
Even if I don’t talk about Sidhu, the mandate in Amritsar is going to be not against Jaitley but against the BJP faction represented by minister Anil Joshi and the Akali faction represented by Bikram Singh Majithia who together stopped all development of Amritsar to humble Sidhu and pump up their own egos. Now, while Majithia is hated in the villages, Joshi is hated in the urban areas of the constituency.”
Recalling the Vision 2025 document that his government had prepared for Amritsar when he was Punjab CM, Amarinder said none of the items in the vision document had been implemented by the successive SAD-BJP governments.
“What will Jaitley tell people? It was his party’s MP (Sidhu) in Amritsar and his party’s government that was in power in Punjab, but no development took place in seven years. Suddenly, Jaitley has fallen in love with everything Amritsari. But in his meetings, he is fumbling on issues concerning Punjab and Amritsar.
I challenge him to an open debate on it. Since he has nothing to say against me, he keeps calling me ungentlemanly. His tragedy is that he has never fought an election while this is my 10th poll battle. I will call him a gentleman from Delhi, if that pleases him,” Amarinder added.