Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley, who is being fielded from Amristar, represented in the last Lok Sabha by cricketer-turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, dismissed talk about his being an “outsider” to the holy city.
He also said Sidhu had persuaded him to contest from the constituency and would play an important role in Jaitley’s campaign in the city.
“Sidhu was persuading me to contest and I was persuading him to contest. He finally succeeded,” Jaitley told mediapersons here on Tuesday.
Jaitley, who is Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, and is fighting his first Lok Sabha election, had kind words for Sidhu, who wanted to re-contest from Amritsar despite the widespread perception that he had ignored the constituency.
“I can just say that Sidhu is an asset to the party and his relations with me are very strong. He will be active in the campaign and the party will use his talent in the campaign in other places as well,” Jaitley said.
On questions about the three-time MP being dumped by the BJP, Jaitley said, “Sidhu has great bond with the party and will remain.”
Sidhu’s differences with the powerful Badals — chief minister Parkash Singh and deputy CM Sukhbir — and groupism in the Punjab unit of the BJP were seen as the major reason for the party’s decision to deny him a ticket this time.
On remarks that Jaitley was an outsider to Amritsar, he said, “I have been visiting Amritsar most frequently. I have strong family ties and many of my family members have a strong connect to this place. So I do not consider myself an outsider.”
Describing his candidature from Amritsar as a great opportunity to serve the city, Jaitley said, “Once the NDA government is formed, Punjab will get great gains.”