Lok Sabha Elections 2019: At Priyanka Gandhi rally, Navjot Sidhu rejoins Punjab campaign to attack Badals
Navjot Singh Sidhu had taken offence to the Punjab Congress dropping him out of the list of speakers at a Rahul Gandhi’s Moga rally in March this year and had been in a sulk for days, skipping office and political events.Updated: May 14, 2019 21:36 IST
Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu who had skipped his home state Punjab finally hit the campaign trail with a rally addressed by Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in Bathinda on Tuesday. Sidhu, a star campaigner of the Congress in many states, had kept himself out of electioneering in the state reportedly because he felt slighted by the state leadership including Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.
Sidhu had taken offence to the Punjab Congress dropping him out of the list of speakers at a Rahul Gandhi’s Moga rally in March this year and had been in a sulk for days, skipping office and political events.
“If I am not good enough to speak at Rahul’s rally, I am not good enough as a speaker and a campaigner. Whether I am invited to speak or not is something that is not under my control. But it has shown me my place,” Sidhu had said before going incommunicado.
Sidhu did emerge weeks later to campaign for the party but this time, he only addressed election meetings in states as far as Gujarat, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh. Some of these speeches did get him into trouble with the Election Commission also but he stayed the course. His office said the former cricketer had addressed 80 rallies over a 28-day period.
But Punjab didn’t figure in his itinerary.
“I am not aware if Punjab unit of Congress has sought my dates. But I have not received any call from chief minister Amarinder Singh, state party chief Sunil Jakhar or general secretary in-charge of Punjab Asha Kumari,” Sidhu said on Monday to explain his absence from the state.
The Congress leadership reached out to him soon after and told him to join Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on her campaign trial to Bathinda. This time, Sidhu did speak at the rally and joined Priyanka Gandhi when she went on a roadshow.
“If the Badals are ousted out of Bathinda, then entire generations of people Punjab shall be saved,” Sidhu said at a rally, asking thousands of people who had gathered to vote out Akali Dal’s first family, former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal’s wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal.
The south Punjab seat had last voted the Congress candidate in 1991 and subsequently only backed the Akali Dal in Lok Sabha elections.
Sidhu also promised people that he would be back in the constituency on 17 May for more rallies. “Priyankaji has told me to come and speak here against the Badals on 17th,” he said.
Hours before he joined Priyanka Gandhi at the rally, his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu did take a swipe at the chief minister. She blamed Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and party general secretary in-charge for Punjab Asha Kumari for the party declining her claim to the party ticket from Amritsar over the rail tragedy.
She said the party high command did offer her Amritsar but she turned it down as she could not have managed campaigning in nine assembly segments of a Lok Sabha constituency without husband Navjot Sidhu.
“I had applied for Chandigarh as it was a smaller and mainly urban seat and I could have managed it alone while Sidhu campaigned for the Congress across the country,” she added.
Punjab, which sends 13 members to Lok Sabha, is set to vote on 19 May, the last of the seven-phase national elections.
First Published: May 14, 2019 19:59 IST