Breaking his silence, sitting MP of Amritsar and party's star campaigner Navjot Singh Sidhu on Saturday confirmed that he wouldn't campaign in Punjab. "Just fulfilling the wish of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal," said the leader who was denied the chance to defend his seat.
His statement comes a day after his wife, chief parliamentary secretary Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu, said categorically that the former cricketer couldn't bat for the Akali-BJP candidates because of his rift with the Akalis led by Badal.
Speaking over telephone from Bangladesh, where he is doing cricket commentary for television during the T20 World Cup, Sidhu said: "It was Badal Saab who did not want me to contest. He was firm against me, so why would I go to Punjab to campaign." The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had dropped the sitting member of Parliament this time and fielded his mentor in politics, Arun Jaitley, from the seat Sidhu has won thrice.
Asked why he wouldn't campaign for his "guru in politics", Sidhu said: "I am no more an MP. I also have no post. I am a soldier of the party simply. My wife, as legislator, is representing the Sidhu family in Amritsar. She will campaign hard for Jaitley Sir."
Asked to react to Jaitley's claiming that Sidhu himself had persuaded him to contest, he replied: "I had said repeatedly till the last that I wanted to contest only from Amritsar." The three-time MP had been at the loggerheads with the the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) ever since he had accused CM Parkash Singh Badal and deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal of scuttling his pet projects for the constituency.
He also disagreed with Akali minister Bikram Singh Majithia and state BJP minister Anil Joshi, who a day before the ticket announcement had demanded Jaitley as candidate. On Friday, Jaitley had visited Sidhu's house and met his wife, who had agreed to work wholeheartedly for the party.
"I will canvass but since Akalis do not like my husband, he will not campaign in Punjab," she had said, adding: "We don't want any rift during the election." She had even named Majithia and Joshi as people who never wanted Sidhu to be fielded from Amritsar.
Capt praises Sidhu
Congress candidate Captain Amarinder Singh regretted that a popular MP had not received the ticket. "Sidhu was a good MP and liked by the people. He worked for the city and left just because the Akalis never liked him and the work he wanted to do was not allowed," the former CM added.