After the crushing defeat of BJP stalwart Arun Jaitley from Amritsar, the SAD-BJP combine stands embarrassed. Amid the blame game within the coalition, chief parliamentary secretary and BJP MLA from Amritsar East, Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu, has taken on the SAD.
Her husband and the then sitting MP Navjot Singh Sidhu’s replacement by Jaitley at the alleged behest of the Akalis and a camp within the BJP has already made her vent her anger repeatedly.
The Sidhus have been at loggerheads with the Badals for long over alleged discrimination with Amritsar. On Saturday, HT talked to Dr Sidhu on the ongoing tussle. Excerpts:
Why did Arun Jaitley lose in Amritsar?
It was the writing on the wall. People were unhappy with the state government. In all important cities, such as Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana, we failed.
This shows that people were particularly unhappy with policies affecting the urban population. As far as failure of leaders is concerned, I just want to say that the [Shiromani] Akali Dal and some leaders of the BJP failed because they promised big to Jaitley, whereas we had told him the ground reality.
You are asking Akali minister Bikram Singh Majithia [whose segment Majitha is in Amritsar LS seat] to resign, but in your segment Jaitley trailed by 32,000 votes. Shouldn’t you resign?
In my constituency, the Akalis interfered. The constituency was divided and I was not invited in Akali wards.
Still, if the BJP lost by 10,000 votes in BJP wards, Akali Dal lost by more than 20,000. We need to improve rather than get into this blame game.
I say Mr Majithia should resign just because he was looking after everything. I played my part and tried my best, so there is no question of my resignation.
What is your tussle with Akali Dal?
I have no tussle with the Akali Dal. It is just that I say things openly and point out issues. There are many in the BJP who are unhappy with the Akali Dal, but it is just that they don’t speak and I do.
I and my husband both spoke against the Akali Dal just because we feel strongly about it. Now many in the BJP feel the same. If Akali Dal interferes, we also have the right to speak.
You are blaming the SAD that managed to win in its two segments in Amritsar. But your party lost so badly in the city.
Issues such as property tax hit the BJP vote bank badly. Moreover, in the city too, the Akali Dal cannot run away from responsibility.
It has around 30 councillors. It means they also did not perform. Definitely, people did not accept the BJP in the city. We need to rework things from here and make people trust us.
You and your husband are accused of ignoring the constituency. Did that also result in a loss?
There is nothing like that. Now, too, when I was campaigning, people were asking why Mr Sidhu was denied the ticket.