Irked by outbursts, friendly fire, Captain’s ministers take on Navjot Singh Sidhu

Kanchan Vasdev
Sources said a report on Sidhu s outburst in Bathinda is likely to be submitted to the AICC president soon.

IN THE eye of a storm since his recent remarks against Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh, Punjab Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu is now also facing the ire of his party colleagues. While speaking at a recent Bathinda rally, he had alleged there was a nexus between senior Congress leaders and the Badals while talking about sacrilege cases. And this is not the first time his remarks have been aimed at his own party. While Cabinet Minister Brahm Mohindra and Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa had taken on Sidhu on Sunday, Forest Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot on Monday had accused him of violating party discipline and said such people had no place in the Congress.

Sidhu s remarks came at a time when entire Congress was unitedly fighting to ensure that the party wins all the 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab. The party high command should take notice of his comments. If Sidhu thinks he cannot work with Capt Amarinder ji, then he should resign immediately, a PTI report quoted Dharamsot as saying.

I think his ambitions are very high and he remains dis-satisfied wherever he goes. When he was in the BJP, he was not satisfied there. Today, he may be eyeing chief minister s post, tomorrow even prime minister s chair may not satisfy him. So, wherever he goes, he has problems, he added.

Haryana Cabinet Minister and Sidhu s old party colleague Anil Vij has previously referred to him as an unguided missile who needs to be controlled . On Monday, his Cabinet colleague Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa called him a loose cannon.

He was hitting out at Badals and also the chief minister. What was he telling the voters there? If he had an issue he could have taken it up on a party platform. He is not a team player. When he was in BJP he fought with the captain of his party and now in Congress he fights with his chief minister. Sidhu is otherwise a wonderful man, god has given him so much of star power, memory and talent. But he is not consistent. He does not realise when he speaks, he does not realise the importance of the moment. He should realise that one does not succeed without being a team player. Loners do not end up anywhere.

He gets a lot of traction. But he gets so excited while speaking that he ends up crossing the line of party discipline, Bajwa added.
As star campaigner of the party, Sidhu addressed around 100 rallies across the country, but his remarks, made a day before election, has earned him a lot of wrath. He embarrassed the Congress when he spoke up after Pulwama attack. Several senior leaders had to disassociate with his remarks. A party leader should know what he/she speaks. If one does not know (what to say) then one should call up and ask what is the party line. One cannot just go on and leave the organisation to cover up their deeds.

A Congress leader, considered close to the chief minister, said that the party s state unit did not want him to campaign in the state because they feared he would say something that would amount to belittling the CM. His wife has already been giving Amarinder s government 4/10, has accused him of working against her and ensuring she was denied a party ticket from Chandigarh. While his wife speaks from one direction, he speaks from the other. This is becoming too much. Just wait for the next Cabinet meeting. We have called up the chief minister already that this has to stop. Both have to remain within party discipline. Otherwise we all will start speaking up, said a Cabinet minister. Party general secretary in-charge Asha Kumari said, When the AICC president comes to Punjab, he says those guilty of Bargari sacrilege will be punished within the ambit of the law. And Sidhu ji says that Congress is colluding with Badals. Is he bigger than the AICC president?

Sources said a report on Sidhu s outburst in Bathinda is likely to be submitted to the AICC president soon. When he and his wife Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu were in the BJP, they were also seen taking on former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal when the SAD-BJP was in power. Sidhu was an MP from Amritsar and his wife was a BJP MLA from Amritsar-East. Dr Navjot Kaur was appointed chief parliamentary secretary (health), but the couple was seen confronting the party s senior leaders. Sidhu had sat on a dharna against Badal and criticised his government publicly. Later, both had resigned from BJP and joined Congress. Soon after joining Congress however, he also crossed swords with Amarinder. His grievances were: not being allow to have his way on several issues including levying tax on TV channels to nail a Badals-owned cable TV network, cleaning up the sand mining business and also earning revenue from liquor trade.

Considering that AICC general secretary in-charge Priyanka Gandhi recently took him along to campaign in Punjab in her chopper, it remains to be seen what action the high command takes against Sidhu for his recent remarks. All eyes are on the high command, from whom the CM has openly demanded action. Sidhu too has stated that he would quit if the guilty in the Bargari case are not punished.
Interestingly, Lok Insaf Party chief Simarjit Singh Bains hailed Sidhu for his remarks and demanded that the CM step down and nominate Sidhu for his post. Bains is an old aide of Sidhu as both had floated their own outfit Awaaz-e-Punjab before the Assembly polls. Later, Bains had extended support to AAP and Sidhu joined the Congress.

Haryana Cabinet Minister Anil Vij took his criticism for Sidhu a step ahead when he tweeted on Monday: #NavjotSinghSidhu having snub from all parties including BJP & Congres is left with no choice except to join #ImranKhan Party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

While Sidhu was unavailable for comment, he had defended himself Sunday saying, Whatever I said came straight from my conscience. Every honourable man of the community feels that his Guru was insulted. I just told the people that they should do justice with their vote. They should nail those persons who have stabbed the Congress s back by colluding with the culprits. What is wrong in this?