BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu's political rival Om Parkash Soni wants the cricketer-turned-politician to once again contest the next Lok Sabha elections from the Amritsar parliamentary constituency, as "only the electorate can give a report card of his performance in the past four-five years.
Soni, who was recently appointed vice-president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) and incharge of the Majha belt, had lost the last parliamentary poll to Sidhu by a slender margin of 6,500 votes.
One of the few contenders for the Congress ticket from Amritsar, Soni is keen that Sidhu once again enters the electoral field as a candidate of the BJP.
"I am no one to analyse Sidhu's performance. It is the electorate which will give the right picture," he said while replying to queries on Sidhu's long absence from his constituency.
Referring to Sidhu as his brother, Soni felt that running away from the people who voted for him (Sidhu) was not in the best interest of the constituency. He should come and fulfill the many promises he made to the people during the campaign, he said.
"Civic conditions in Amritsar city have gone from bad to worse. There has been very little development and even the law and order situation in the city is not very conducive with crimes taking place everyday," claimed Soni, a Congress MLA from Amritsar Central assembly constituency.
Soni made a particular reference to the inability of Sidhu to stop the state government from shifting the Central University from Amritsar to Bathinda. "Sidhu made no effort to stop this prestigious university from being shifted," he claimed.
"After the union government allotted the Central University to Amritsar, the state government took the plea that land for the university was not available there. Land was very much available for this university, which would have been very beneficial for the students of Majha," Soni said.
The Congress leader also appealed to Sidhu to get an expenditure list from the state government to know where central funds allocated for various developmental schemes went. Crores were given for the holy city under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), he said, asking the BJP MP whether he knew where these funds went.
On the invitation extended by some of his state party colleagues asking Sidhu to join the Congress, Soni felt that they should refrain from giving such statements. Only the party high command can decide on such matters, he said.
However, Soni was all praise for the MP's wife, Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu, a BJP MLA from Amritsar East. "She meets the people of her constituency and takes care to address their problems," he added.
Cong dharna on Apr 21
Soni, who addressed his first party workers' meeting after becoming the Majha zone incharge, said the Congress would stage a dharna in Amritsar on April 21 in protest against the recent power hike. "Through this dharna, we will also be protesting against the failure of the state government to address the problems of local industrialists and traders," he said.
PPCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa and other senior party leaders will also participate in the dharna.
On his differences with some senior party colleagues from the Majha belt, Soni said he had no differences with anyone. "However, if some leaders are unhappy with my appointment, I will go and personally meet them," he said.