Amid all the speculations that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) might rehabilitate its three-time former local MP Navjot Singh Sidhu by nominating him to the Rajya Sabha, it yet again kept him away from Parliament by selecting former Amritsar mayor Shwait Malik instead.
For Malik, who was written off after his defeat in the 2012 civic body elections, it is a “surprise” comeback. “I consider myself an ordinary worker of the party. I was neither expecting this responsibility nor angling for it. I thank the party leadership for posing faith in me. I will try my best to meet the expectations. Even the 2012 loss never dampened my spirits,” he said.
The 53-year old engineer, who was local mayor from 2007 to 2012, was first elected to the Amritsar Municipal Corporation in 1997 and then thrice more. In 2012, when he was among the four Akali-BJP candidates to lose the MC elections, many in the BJP had said it was the end of his political career. In the past four years, he would attend the BJP meetings in the city but rarely make any important political statement.
Malik’s strong roots in Hindu radical organisation Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) seems to have played a big role in his elevation. He campaigned for now Union minister Arun Jaitley in the losing 2014 Lok Sabha campaign here against Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh. Malik, as mayor or BJP leader, has no godfather or family history to fall back on in politics. The RSS is the only connection he needed.
The engineering graduate from Thapar University has diploma in medical electronics from Tokyo, Japan. His father, late Rajinder Mailk, was an RSS pracharak (publicity agent) and even his family has worked actively for the RSS; but he waited till 1993 to join the BJP formally. As mayor, he was close to former MP Navjot Singh Sidhu.
To a question suggesting that he had upstaged the ex-MP, Malik said: “Sidhu is like an elder brother to me and we worked together for a long time. He is a very respectable leader and I will need his blessings and best wishes.” He will file his nomination in Chandigarh on Friday.
Ex-MP left guessing
Left guessing again, Sidhu will have to rethink his strategy, even though his wife, chief parliamentary secretary Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu, stated a couple of days ago that he would not quit the BJP.
This has happened when the CPS is firing on all cylinders against the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal and fighting rumours that Sidhu might move to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Sidhu, who was denied the Lok Sabha election ticket in 2014, has fallen foul of not only the SAD leadership but also many BJP leaders in Punjab. Efforts to contact the Sidhu couple were futile.