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Sidhu’s message to Punjab BJP, stay united and fight for rights

As former Amritsar MP and BJP leader Navjot Singh Sidhu has yet again taken the battle to the Badal camp; the cricketer-turned-politician has given a clear message to the Punjab BJP leadership that they must stay united. “United we stand, divided we fall,” he added.

punjab Updated: Oct 16, 2014 09:04 IST
Aseem Bassi
Aseem Bassi
Hindustan Times
Amritsar,Navjot Singh Sidhu,Punjab

As former Amritsar MP and BJP leader Navjot Singh Sidhu has yet again taken the battle to the Badal camp; the cricketer-turned-politician has given a clear message to the Punjab BJP leadership that they must stay united. “United we stand, divided we fall,” he added.

Sidhu’s outburst against the alliance partner, SAD, during the election campaign in Haryana has again led to cracks between the BJP and Akali Dal in Punjab.

Sidhu has asked the BJP leaders to raise their voice for their rights.

Unlike in the past, this time Sidhu saw support coming from state BJP chief Kamal Sharma and national secretary Tarun Chugh backing the cricketer after the Punjab government withdrew his security.
The way the BJP leadership gave a special chopper to Sidhu and asked him to campaign aggressively in Haryana seems to have not only put an end to his political exile but also strengthened his position in the party.

As the Sidhu-Badal tiff again makes headlines, Hindustan Times spoke to former MP on a range of issues.

Here are the excerpts:

Your party deserted you in Punjab; now they are backing you.

I never spoke against anyone (BJP leaders) and I don’t have any differences with them. I raised voice against the alliance partner Akali Dal, especially the Badals, only when it was required. Today, if the BJP leaders in Punjab have backed me, I feel good about it. My urgent and important message to the BJP leaders in Punjab is to start fighting for your rights. “United we stand, divided we fall.” It is the BJP that has always played a vital role in the formation of government in Punjab. We cannot always be at the receiving end. Time has come that the BJP leaders must stay united and follow the path of Modi saab. Let’s stand for Punjab.

Amid your attacks against the Badals, do you justify the SAD-BJP alliance in Punjab?
As far as the alliance in Punjab is concerned, it is for the party high command to look into it. But I would definitely say that strong cracks have emerged between the alliance partners in Punjab. Till how long will the BJP tolerate being dictated terms? In the municipal corporation polls, Akali candidates were placed in front of our men in Amritsar. Now in Haryana, the SAD is openly supporting the INLD that opposes the BJP. Is this alliance? This is backstabbing. I am not against the Akali Dal, I am against people who think it is their “jaagir”.

What is your tussle with the Badals?

I have no personal issues with anyone. If I speak truth and raise issues that they do not like, I am not to blame. Being the Amritsar MP I was cornered by the state government. I was repeatedly ignored for important functions. Today, when they are supporting the INLD that opposes the BJP and I am questioning them, what wrong am I doing? I always supported them but think a few people in the Akali Dal feel insecure because of me.

Written off by many after being denied the ticket, has Navjot Sidhu bounced back?
I am just doing what I feel is right. Throughout my career, I have risen every time when someone tried to pull me down – be it cricket, TV or politics – as God has been with me. I won’t say I have bounced back or not, but that I have been blessed again.

The Akali Dal has accused you of backstabbing your mentor Arun Jaitley by not campaigning for him.
This has nothing to do with the issues I raised during the Haryana campaign. I would like to talk to the chief minister on this and have already challenged him for a debate. It was Akali leaders who went to Jaitley sir and assured him of a winning certificate. The SAD misguided Jaitley sir.

A section in Punjab BJP says you may become the state party chief. But you are too busy with your TV commitments.
I am a soldier of the party and will abide by whatever responsibility it gives me. As far as TV is concerned, I never went there for almost nine years. I would just say that I can sacrifice anything to serve my motherland. Nothing is bigger than Punjab for me.

What prompted the government to withdraw your security?

Only the government or chief minister Parkash Singh Badal can answer that. I would like to ask them as to what transpired in a matter of hours that they restored the security. They cannot do this to me. I am not afraid of anything and won’t take any pressure exerted on me.

If you are so much against the Punjab government, don’t you think your wife must resign? Even the Congress wants that.
Asking for resignation is the right of the Congress. However, the Akali Dal has not spared her also as she was repeatedly targeted in the past. Because of me, many a time she has faced discrimination. Even her effigies were burnt in her constituency by the alliance partner. Is Dr Sidhu corrupt or is she not sincere in her work? Why should she resign?

First Published: Oct 15, 2014 21:42 IST