The simmering differences between Amritsar's BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu and cabinet minister Bikram Majithia came out in the open as the latter launched a verbal onslaught on the former cricketer who responded in kind.
"The Akali Dal does not need lessons on coalition dharma from Sidhu. Had the SAD not followed the coalition dharma in 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Sidhu would not have been the MP from Amritsar," remarked Majithia, revenue minister and Youth Akali Dal chief, on Saturday.
Sidhu had a few days ago alleged that Akalis had supported few Independents that led to defeat of BJP candidates in Amritsar MC polls and thus did not follow the coalition 'dharma'.
"I have great regard for Sidhu, but if he has said this, it is very sad," Majithia said at a press conference.
"Sidhu should have been magnanimous; the way Akali Dal supported him in the Lok Sabha polls. When our coalition partner failed to perform, it was due to SAD that Sidhu got lead from Attari, Majitha, Rajasansi, Ajnala and Amritsar (South) in the Lok Sabha polls," Majithia commented.
On Sidhu's charge that Akali Dal resorted to "undemocratic means" in the recent MC polls, Majithia quipped, "Prove it."
The SAD-BJP relations were strong and I wished that no leader made such statements, the revenue minister added.
"The BJP is not a puppet in the hands of Bikram Majithia which would dance to his tunes. I am not obligated to react to whatever Majithia says. Since he has taken my name, I would like to tell him that I have also addressed thousands of rallies in support of the Akali Dal," said Sidhu while reacting to Majithia's statements.
"Akali worker is like my turban; wherever Akalis have given their sweat, I have given my blood," said Sidhu, known for his "Sidhuisms".
"The BJP has nothing to prove to Majithia. Badal Sahib is a fatherly figure and Sukhbir is like a brother. If Bikram still is not convinced, let the MC polls be held under the Election Commission (EC) umbrella and the people of Amritsar will give him all the proofs," the Amritsar MP added.
In the recent MC polls in Amritsar, the BJP and SAD had been at loggerheads. In ward numbers 14 and 53, both alliance partners had put up their official candidates. And unhappy with entry of a few Akalis as Independents, BJP state chief Ashwani Sharma had even called a press conference and raised objections over five such nominees in as many wards. A day later, the Akali Dal had expelled three Independents from the party.
Bikram, on Amritsar mayor
Asked who would be mayor of Amritsar Bikram Majithia said, "The SAD-BJP relations are very strong. The decision on the mayor will be taken by the CM, Deputy CM and BJP chief Nitin Gadkari."