Once the poster boy of the BJP in Punjab and a star campaigner across India, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu has been dropped from the squad thanks primarily to his tirade against the party's long-time partners, the Akalis.
After a smashing start to his political innings 10 years ago and three wins from Amritsar, Sidhu's replacement with senior leader Arun Jaitley is being seen as a fallout of his rift with Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son and deputy Sukhbir Singh Badal.
Turning his tirade against the Badals around a year ago, Sidhu played much like he did when he batted for the Indian cricket team - attacking throughout and repeatedly accusing the father-son of downsizing him and scuttling his pet projects. Even when the announcement on BJP tickets was around the corner, Sidhu yet took another dig at CM Badal, saying that it was the SAD patriarch who did not want him to contest polls. With Sidhu left at the non-striker's end now - not only the Akalis, but even a large section of the state BJP was against him - the influence of the Badals on the BJP high command seems clear.
PHOTO CAPTION:Three-time MP Navjot Singh Sidhu with senior BJP leader and his replacement as the party candidate, Arun Jaitley, in Amritsar in December 2011. HT File Photo
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