Contrary to Amritsar BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu's approach on raising the alleged "discrimination" issue in the public domain, Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, in his bid to end the ongoing controversy, on Sunday extended the former an open invitation to meet him any time for discussing all pending issues.
Sidhu recently fired a fresh salvo at the alliance government by asking the chief minister to order a judicial probe into the transfer of Amritsar Improvement Trust funds worth crores to other parts of the state.
Earlier, he had openly accused the government of discriminating against him regarding the development projects of Amritsar.
"Sidhu is like a younger brother to me. He had not discussed anything with me in the past seven months. I welcome him to discuss all pending issues, including those related to Amritsar's development with me any time, either at breakfast, lunch or dinner. I may also visit him in case he extends such an invitation," Sukhbir, who was here to attend a state-level Aggarsen Jayanti function, said.
On Sidhu's allegation that Sukhbir's claim about carrying out Rs 2,000 crore development works in the next three years was a "lollypop", Sukhbir, accompanied by Madan Mohan Mittal, health minister, tried to tone down the issue and passed on the buck to the BJP leadership. He preferred not to make any harsh comments against Sidhu.
"I am in charge of the home portfolio and look after the state's law and order. The development projects in Amritsar are to be carried out by the local bodies department headed by BJP leader Chunni Lal Bhagat. Earlier too, BJP's Manoranjan Kalia was minister in charge. So, the BJP leaders are required to answer Sidhu's queries. I am not aware what's happening in that department," he said, leaving Mittal smiling.
Asserting that Amritsar's development was taken up on priority in the past, Sukhbir maintained that new bridges, roads and sewerage system were constructed without any bias.
On Sidhu's indirect allegation on being politically marginalised at the "behest" of revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia, Sukhbir denied it saying Sidhu belonged to the BJP and not to the SAD. "How can Akalis engineer such a situation for Sidhu in the BJP? This is incorrect. Being the alliance partner, we are supporting the BJP candidates and will continue to support anyone getting the BJP ticket in future as well," he added.
Attacking Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa and Congress Legislature Party leader Sunil Jakhar, the deputy chief minister said the two were devoid of any real issues, thus, harping on "false propaganda" against the state government to stay in media limelight. "The Congress is a directionless party," he said, adding that the Congress leaders were trying to gain cheap publicity by raking non-issues.
Not really 'issueless'
Sukhbir termed Bajwa and Jakhar as "issueless", only to correct himself later: "They may be having issues (children) though," he quipped, leaving the media in splits.
Sidhu to meet Shanta
Punjab BJP chief Kamal Sharma, meanwhile, was non-committal on contacting Sidhu to redress his grievances. "Sidhu will meet Punjab BJP affairs in-charge Shanta Kumar in Delhi on September 19 to discuss various issues. Sidhu has raised certain points which needed to be redressed. I hope the high command will sort out the matter," he said.