Lok Sabha elections 2019: Navjot Singh Sidhu to give his home state a miss in poll campaign
Congress star campaigner, Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu is all set to give his home state a miss. The cricketer-turned-politician, who is headed next to Bihar today to address a rally for Shatrughan Sinha.
On not addressing a single rally in Punjab, Sidhu, said his 32-day campaign till May 19 has been decided by office of senior leader Ahmed Patel on requests from state units of the Congress. “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. I was called by Punjab finance minister to Bathinda and Sangrur candidate Kewal Dhillon. But I am going where the party head office is asking me to,” he said.
The standoff between Sidhu and Congress’s state leadership dates back to Rahul Gandhi’s Moga rally on March 7 when he was not allowed to speak, presumably over his taking a stand contrary to that of chief minister Amarinder Singh on Balakot airstrikes.
Agreeing that sharp division in the party ahead of May 19 polls may send out wrong signals, state Congress unit president Sunil Kumar Jakhar said the situation was avoidable. “There is demand for Sidhu in my seat Gurdaspur. He had campaigned extensively for me during the bypoll. I had called up Sidhu to campaign a few days back but he did not attend the call. My personal assistant too left messages with his aides. I had invited his wife, Navjot Kaur, too to join me at the Harmandar Sahib in Amritsar before I came to Gurdaspur for filing the nomination papers. But she did not turn up. We invited her again to Gurdaspur but she did not show up,” he said.
In Congress circles, Sidhu’s reluctance to campaign is being seen as his way to turn the tables on Amarinder Singh, whom he also blames for denial of ticket to his wife from Chandigarh.