The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which seemed reluctant to accept the re-nomination of three-time MP Navjot Singh Sidhu from the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency, has assured biggest victory margin in Punjab to Arun Jaitley, whom the saffron party has picked for this prestigious seat.
Addressing the media on Sunday here in the company of cabinet colleague Gulzar Singh Ranike and other Akali leaders, Punjab minister Bikram Singh Majithia said it would be an honour for Amritsar if a leader of Jaitley's stature represented it in the Lok Sabha. "It'll be a huge help to Punjab as well, as Jaitley can bring a lot of projects to the border state and be its voice in Parliament," he added.
Jaitley had raised many state-related issues in the Rajya Sabha already, said the Punjab ministers, promising him a victory margin of at least 1.5-lakh votes. "This time, most of the Congressmen are ready to campaign but not contest. It's the effect of the (Narendra) Modi wave in the entire country," said Majithia.
On a question about Navjot Singh Sidhu, who is deprived of the BJP ticket this time, Majithia said: "Sidhu is like my elder brother. Not giving him ticket was the BJP decision." On his personal differences with Sidhu, the revenue minister said: "I repeat, Sidhu is like an elder brother. In the last (Lok Sabha) election, we supported him whole-heartedly and he managed a good lead from the rural segments."
The Sidhu-Majithia relations have been strained of late, especially after Sidhu accused the Badals, Punjab's ruling family, of ignoring him and his projects for Amritsar. For the past few months, there's no communication, even in public, between these leaders of the coalition.
After Sunday's press conference, the Akali leaders reassembled to plan a grand welcome for Jaitley on his arriving in the holy city on Tuesday. Chief parliamentary secretaries (CPSes) Inderbir Bolaria and Amarpal Bony; local Akali councillors; and district SAD president Upkar Sandhu were present.