A day after his vehicle was pelted with stones in Jammu, former BJP member of Parliament (MP) Navjot Singh Sidhu on Friday ‘advised’ Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to deal with him politically, while accusing the CM of playing political games in the garb of religion and going overboard to settle personal scores.
Sidhu, who had blamed the Badals and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for the Jammu incident, issued a hard-hitting statement, saying that he was ready to apologise “1 lakh times” to every Sikh and the Akal Takht if he had hurt any Sikh’s sentiments.
Badal, however, refuted his allegations. “The SAD is not involved in the attack against Sidhu,” the CM said in Nabha (Patiala).
Condemning the attack, Badal said neither he nor his party had done such a thing in the past, and wouldn’t do it in the future. “Have you ever heard of me doing such acts in my 60-year-long political career?” he asked. The CM was in Nabha to attend the second death anniversary of former minister Raja Narinder Singh.
Even as Badal stopped short of getting involved in the war of words with Sidhu, the SAD sought the former BJP MP’s explanation for his alleged act of distorting Gurbani during a public address in Ludhiana last month, saying that the attack on his cavalcade in Jammu was a fallout of the act in the absence of his apology.
“Members of the Sikh community in Jammu have repeatedly protested against Sidhu and demanded that he seek forgiveness for distorting Gurbani. Instead of replying to this issue, Sidhu is politicising a strictly religious issue,” SAD general secretary Maheshinder Singh Grewal said in a statement issued from Chandigarh.
‘Don’t use puppets’
In his written statement, the former Amritsar MP said, “Navjot Sidhu has always been a humble servant of God, and bows every day before Akal Takht Sahib. My religion is most sacred to me and my life is mentored by the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib. I have never used religion to gratify selfish vested interests or settle personal scores like Badal saab (CM).”
“He (Badal) has nothing politically against me, so he is going overboard to settle his personal scores because of his own insecurity. I forgive all those who play puppets in the hand of Badal saab. Sikhism is all about tolerance and universal brotherhood,” Sidhu’s statement said.
Talking to HT on Friday, Sidhu said, “I challenge Badal saab again to have a debate with me. If he has problems with me, he must deal with me politically and not through puppets and cheap tactics.”
The ex-MP alleged that many of those who pelted his vehicle with stones were from Pathankot and Gurdaspur and belonged to the constituency of a former Akali minister.
“Why would I complain to the party high command? The entire nation is watching. But such cheap tactics cannot scare me and I will continue to campaign wherever my party asks me to,” he added.
Joshi backs ex-MP
Reacting to the attack on Sidhu, cabinet minister Anil Joshi said, “I cannot say who is behind this, but I just want to say that if anyone has a problem with Sidhu, he must answer back in the political language and not by such cheap ways.”
“Navjot Sidhu is a senior and respected leader of our party and such attacks on him are very unfortunate,” the local bodies minister added.
The Amritsar unit of the BJP also issued a statement and said the attacks on Sidhu would not be tolerated.
Sidhu is being accused of distorting Gurbani during his speech at a religious function in Ludhiana last month. According to the allegations, he wrongly attributed words of Guru Arjan Dev to Mahabharata’s Arjuna.