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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

After eight-month absence, Sidhu to face hostile voters

Aseem Bassi, Hindustan Times  Amritsar, August 30, 2013
First Published: 16:01 IST(30/8/2013) | Last Updated: 16:06 IST(30/8/2013)

After posters surfaced in Amritsar offering Rs. 2 lakh reward to anybody who found the ‘missing’ member of Parliament Navjot Singh Sidhu, the cricketer-turned-politician is all set to return to his constituency early next month.

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Sidhu chose to stay away from his constituency for the past eight months, even as it faced collapsing infrastructure, worsening civic amenities and deteriorating law and order. However, the three-time MP was seen regularly on TV shows and as a cricket commentator.

Things came to a head when posters offering a reward of Rs. 2 lakh to anybody who could bring back the missing MP surfaced all over Amritsar.

Sidhu’s wife and chief parliamentary secretary Dr Navjot Kaur had promised that he will return to the constituency and face the people at the earliest. Sidhu, the one-time poster boy and also the most prominent Sikh face of the BJP, is likely to find himself on a sticky wicket on his return.

The cricketer-turned-politician, who had made a dream debut after defeating Congress veteran RL Bhatia by over one lakh votes in 2004, has been losing ground consistently with his victory margin shrinking each time.

And even though his wife and supporters would like to blame his neglect by the party for his foray into the television world, Sidhu has a lot of explaining to do to people for abandoning the constituency. There is a widespread feeling among the city residents that he should have stayed on and fought for their cause.

Sidhu and his wife have been pushing several projects without much success. Though he had managed to ensure Rs. 100 crore from the state government for Amritsar, four-laning of the road to the city and facelift of international airport, many of his projects such as visa office at the border, special economic zone, CCTV cameras, multipurpose sports facility and heritage city status are yet to become reality.

The feeling of not having a say in the allocation of development funds and party matters led to disagreements and run-ins within the party and also with leaders of alliance partner, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

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