Navjot Singh Sidhu, the cricketer turned entertainer/politician who was supposed to take on the one-man-show of Captain Amarinder Singh in Punjab, and at one time had the backing of Gandhi family, is now facing an existential crisis within his own party. Rarely seen sharing any stage for Congress since his ouster from the cabinet—the spectacular demise of the Grand Sidhu experiment is a case study in point as to how even the most popular of leaders can manufacture their own doom.
Three years after ditching BJP unceremoniously and joining Congress, Sidhu is finding himself in murky waters and is completely sidelined by the top political brass. His actions and statements have contributed to his downfall and the opener is facing a prospect of being axed from the playing XI of Punjab Congress.
The factional fight in Punjab Congress was on full display on the second day of Rahul Gandhi’s tractor rally at Sangrur where Navjot Singh Sidhu was missing in action. Sidhu was made to sit out the rally after his fiery yet rebellious speech at Moga, a day before he had brought a lot of criticism. In his speech, Sidhu had taken a dig at his own party’s government in muted words and had called out Captain’s cabinet for deceiving the trust of the farmers.
It seems that Sidhu is upset as he may not get any position in the party or the state cabinet and therefore his rogue statements are a way to express his displeasure.
While Amarinder Singh is on the Congress list of star campaigners for the upcoming Bihar elections, the name of Sidhu is missing, giving him a fresh setback. To compound Sidhu’s misery, Ludhiana MP Ravneet Bittu has claimed that Sidhu was proving “dangerous” for the party. He said Congress loyalists were hurt by Sidhu’s conduct and that it was time the latter formed a party.
Sidhu was extremely vocal against the government’s functioning and especially Captain Amarinder Singh while he was a cabinet-level minister, although he had to pay the price for it after he was ejected from the cabinet by the two time CM.The chief minister had divested Sidhu of the Local Government and Tourism and Cultural Affairs Departments and allotted him the power and new and renewable energy portfolio. However, Sidhu had refused to assume the charge and resigned.
Reported by TFI, a sitting Congress MLA from Jalandhar (Cantt.) and former captain of Indian hockey team Pargat Singh, who is considered a close ally of Navjot Singh Sidhu, had written a letter to Amarinder Singh in February earlier this year where he had questioned the CM on the cover-up of corruption cases. The letter was meticulously released in public, and many in the Amarinder camp alleged that Pargat did it at the behest of Sidhu.
The dynamics between Singh and Sidhu depicts the plot of Hindi movie Krodh, where one brother uses the moral ground to redeem himself while the other does not consider about values and virtues.
In the Congress party, the presence of Sidhu and Amarinder Singh reflects an uneasy truce. It is a well-known fact that the two senior leaders of the Punjab Congress have had polar views regarding many vital issues.
Their inability to see eye to eye isn’t new. On the invitation of Pakistan’s Foreign Office for the swearing-in ceremony of Imran Khan, Amarinder Singh had vehemently rejected the invitation by citing the continuous terror attacks from across the border. However, calling it a personal invite from a dear friend, Sidhu not only accepted the invitation but also attended the ceremony.
Sidhu’s hug with Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa had not gone down well with Amarinder either.
“I don’t know why he has a habit of doing these things. Probably he has been on camera so often that he says these things without thinking. But the thing is that I raised this point last time when he hugged General Bajwa. I told him this was no business of you to do because every day my soldiers are being shot. My own battalion lost a major and two Jawans a few weeks ago” the CM had said back then.
Sidhu was touted to be the next big thing for Congress in Punjab, but a shrewd Captain Amarinder Singh ensured that Sidhu never really got going in the party. The CM was well-aided by Sidhu’s hara-kiri PR actions, and with the recent developments, it is all but ascertained that the former opener of the Indian team has to take the long walk back to the pavilion.