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Sidhu may contest against Amarinder

BJP will be able to field him for Punjab assembly polls only when SC allows him to contest, reports Jatin Gandhi.

india Updated: Dec 08, 2006 17:07 IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which launched former member of Parliament Navjot Singh Sidhu as its star campaigner with a massive rally at Moga on Friday, wants to field the cricketer-politician from Patiala against Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in the coming assembly elections in Punjab.

Sources in the BJP say the party is thrilled that Sidhu is back in Patiala. But the party will be able to field him only if the Supreme Court allows him to contest. Sidhu is to appeal in the apex court against his conviction last week by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a case of culpable homicide.

BJP General Secretary Arun Jaitley has been saying for a long time that Sidhu alone can offer a tough fight to the Punjab CM on his home turf.

When Sidhu was Amritsar MP, the party did not want to waste a parliamentary berth. Nor could it have utilised him in the campaign against Amarinder Singh in Patiala.

Sidhu had pledged in Amritsar that he would not go to Patiala as long as he was the people's representative there. He resigned from Lok Sabha last week after the Punjab and Haryana High Court verdict and is now back in Patiala.

"I couldn't go to Patiala as long as I was an Amritsar MP. Now if my generals decide that I contest against Amarinder Singh, I will. I want to fight against tyrannical rule," Sidhu told HT on Saturday.

"He will be our star campaigner in Punjab. We will use him all over and in whichever possible manner we can," Jaitley said. He did not deny or admit that the party would field Sidhu.

On instructions from party seniors, the BJP general secretary had accompanied Sidhu to Chandigarh when his sentence was announced. "Both Rajnathji and Advaniji said I must go with him," Jaitley added.

While Sidhu has already conveyed his readiness to contest against Amarinder Singh, the Shiromani Akali Dal, the BJP's dominant partner in the state, too has welcomed the suggestion, sources within SAD say.

SAD General Secretary Sukhbir Badal said that while the seats have not been allocated, the party is happy with Sidhu returning to Patiala. "Sidhu is a good friend. He is a strong campaigner and people love him," Badal said.

Sidhu is already preparing for the battle. His famous one-liners are ready. "Loktantra mein logon kaa raaj hai kissee raja ka nahin (in democracy it’s the people who rule)," he says. The obvious reference is to the CM, who hails from Patiala's royal family.

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First Published: Dec 08, 2006 15:44 IST