A day after Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal 'requested' that BJP's sitting MP Navjot Singh Sidhu must campaign for his guru and Amritsar candidate Arun Jaitley, Sidhu hit back at the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) patriarch, saying, "There is no need for crocodile tears; people know who stabbed me in the back."
Three-time MP Sidhu was denied the BJP ticket and replaced by Jaitley apparently over his sour relations with the saffron party's partner SAD and a faction within the BJP.
Sidhu has not been campaigning for Jaitley, whom he considers his political mentor, though his MLA wife has been campaigning for Jaitley. This is Jaitley's first LS election.
Talking to HT over phone from Bangladesh, where he is on a cricket commentary assignment, Sidhu said, "By not coming to Amritsar to campaign, I am aiding Jaitley saab.
I am his greatest well-wisher. But there were many people who were insecure because of me. Now, by not coming, I have given them the greatest security cover."
Hitting back at his detractors in the BJP and Akali Dal, Sidhu said, "They did not want me. It was evident. It was they who did press conferences. I did not speak anything, and tolerated it, as my duty for Amritsar."
A press conference had been held by Punjab BJP minister Anil Joshi and others some days before the candidature announcement, where they had favoured that Sidhu be replaced by senior leader Jaitley.
Asked about CM Badal's statement that Sidhu "must not show his back" to his political guru, the former cricketer reiterated allegations that he has been leveling for several months: "Did he (CM) ever request me to join any development meeting in the last three years? I can given 20 instances where my projects were got scuttled."
Taking a further dig, he said, "I campaigned for Badal saab and the Akali Dal whenever they called me. I must have done 250 rallies."
Referring to himself in third person, Sidhu added a one-liner in his typical style: "Sidhu has taken everything in life head on, but people know who stabbed Sidhu in the back."