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Reverse sweep: Sidhu off fast track

Changing his stance within hours of declaring fast-unto-death, Amritsar's member of Parliament Navjot Singh Sidhu said he was calling it off because written assurance from chief minister Parkash Singh Badal about time-bound completion of his projects had brought his hopes alive.

punjab Updated: Sep 29, 2013 00:48 IST
Aseem Bassi

Changing his stance within hours of declaring fast-unto-death, Amritsar's member of Parliament Navjot Singh Sidhu said he was calling it off because written assurance from chief minister Parkash Singh Badal about time-bound completion of his projects had brought his hopes alive.

After the reverse sweep in the morning, the cricketer-turned-politician resumed batting for Amritsar with a fresh guard, saying that he was satisfied with the CM's word but unhappy that an MP had to threaten an extreme step to convince the government.

Asked what had happened in a few hours that he had to change his stance, Sidhu said: "It was the projects I was talking about. Now when the CM himself has assured in writing that these will be implemented in a time-bound manner, what else I want." "I will ensure it's done," he told reporters on Saturday at Circuit House here.

"Late night, I got the message (showing a packet to reporters) from Badal Saab. I am thankful to the CM. He is a fatherly figure," said Sidhu. He said it was not his ego but concern for Amritsar and the mandate of people that had given him the right to question the government.

Sidhu, who had earlier claimed that he felt like an MP in opposition, said: "It hurts when each issue I raise is termed Sidhu's issue. It is Amritsar's issue." Still bitter over being ignored, Sidhu appealed to the government to involve elected representatives in decision-making. "The MP is not called to functions. Those who have no stature are given importance. This is the dark side of democracy," he said.

"It's not finished," said the MP, "until the Punjab government allocates special funds or special status to the holy city. Let's see which party or who objects." Replying to a question about the money diverted from Amritsar, Sidhu said he had been told that some had been returned and the remaining would also be sent back to Amritsar Improvement Trust (AIT). Sidhu had alleged diversion of `60 crore from the AIT.

Sidhu said it wasn't about his political existence or elections. "Earlier also, I never asked the party for ticket," he said. After Sidhu's fast announcement, BJP's national leaders, including Rajnath Singh, had intervened.

Prayers answered, Almighty thanked

The MP, along with his wife, chief parliamentary secretary Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu, paid obeisance at the Golden Temple, saying he wanted to thank the Almighty after the chief minister had assured him that the city's projects would be completed in time.


Sidhu's claims about CM's assurance

CCTV cameras: Are promised in nine months. I will meet the deputy chief minister to request that it is done quicker.

Multipurpose sports complex: I had also submitted a good design but now when (deputy CM) Sukhbir Singh Badal has announced a more advanced concept worth `75 crore and promised to float the tenders in November, it's fine.

City Bus service: They have assured me a November start. I am happy with it.

Bhandari Bridge widening: I had suggested pre-fabricated widening that would have cost `8 crore but the government claims it will pump in `100 crore to extend the elevated road (that merges into the bridge). I will try and convince the deputy CM that, initially, let us widen the bridge by spending `8 crore.

Solid-waste management: They have said the tenders will be floated on October 7, and the work will start soon.

Kitchlew Chowk flyover: I'm told the work will be completed soon.

On diverted money: I have been told that some money has been returned, while the rest will be sent back to Amritsar Improvement Trust. I have asked the Bharatiya Janata Party state president to see that the money is either distributed in the constituencies or spent on these projects