The humiliating defeat of BJP stalwart Arun Jaitley from Amritsar has yet again brought the BJP’s Sidhu camp and Akali leaders at loggerheads. Leaders of under-fire ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Monday hit back at former BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu’s wife, Amritsar East MLA Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu, who had demanded resignation of SAD minister Bikram Singh Majithia over Jaitley’s debacle.
Terming chief parliamentary secretary Dr Sidhu’s outburst against Majithia as “a case of the pot calling the kettle black”, several SAD legislators from Majha — Harmeet Sandhu, Virsa Singh Valtoha, Manjit Singh Manna and Baljit Singh Jalalusma — issued a statement: “The fact of the matter is that it was Mrs Sidhu who disowned the coalition dharma by airing her grudges in the media instead of party forums.”
Majithia, whose assembly segment Majitha is part of the Amritsar Lok Sabha segment, was a prime mover along with a section of the BJP for Jaitley replacing sitting MP Sidhu as the candidate.
Sidhu had been confronting the ruling Badals of ignoring Amritsar. After the results, BJP’s Anil Joshi, the MLA from Amritsar North, has already resigned from the cabinet taking “moral responsibility”.
But in the statement on Monday, the Akali leaders pointed towards the voting patterns in Dr Sidhu’s assembly segment, too, saying that they were “shocked at the phenomenal lead of 32,000-plus votes taken by Congress candidate Capt Amarinder Singh from Amritsar East, the seat held by Mrs Sidhu.
The BJP leader on her part should explain to the people of Amritsar whether the huge defeat suffered by Jaitley from her constituency was a barometer of her popularity graph among the people or a result of some mischief to ensure Mr Jaitley’s defeat as well as embarrass the SAD-BJP coalition”.
Asserting that Dr Sidhu was “letting her personal pique at her husband Navjot Sidhu being denied the party nomination get the better of her”, the legislators urged her to “consider that it is the party which has made her what she is ” and that she should not commit any act which could be construed as a “betrayal of the party”.
They added, “You may have a grouse against anyone but you knew that it was Mr Arun Jaitely from your own party who was contesting the elections.”
About Majithia, the leaders said he had delivered in his assembly segment vis-a-vis the last two Lok Sabha polls that were contested by Navjot Singh Sidhu on the BJP ticket, and had “even increased the victory margin from Majitha this time to around 21,000 votes vis-a-vis 16,000 and 20,000 in 2007 (bypoll) and 2009”.
The leaders urged Dr Sidhu not to try to pin the defeat on Akali councilors: “The SAD-BJP combine as well as the party candidate [Jaitley] gave you a free hand in the constituency to ensure you could deliver. If you have failed to do so, it is completely your fault.”
While demanding resignation of state revenue minister Majithia “and all others who convinced Jaitley to contest from Amritsar”, Dr Sidhu had said the Jaitley had been “misled”.