Will deliver knockout punch to Badals: Sidhu
A day after Punjab local bodies minister and Congress star campaigner Navjot Singh Sidhu said he would give his home state a miss, the party high command stepped in to defuse the standoff. Sidhu, who was in Delhi for treatment, was asked to accompany party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi during her maiden Punjab visit this poll season on Tuesday.
“I have been ordered to go with Priyanka . My programmes have been rescheduled. I will now go to Himachal on Wednesday and Bihar and Madhya Pradesh on Thursday,” Sidhu said before leaving for Bathinda with Priyanka.
Addressing his first election rally in the state at Bathinda, Sidhu said he would return in the segment on May 17, the last day of campaigning, to deliver a “knockout punch” to the Badals. “Here comes Sidhu, bhag Badal bhag,” he said. Sidhu said he would hold 10 rallies on May 17 if Congress candidate Amrinder Singh Raja Warring asked him to do so. Warring is pitted against Akali Dal’s Harsimrat Badal. The electoral defeat of the Badals was important to save the next generations and the state, he said.
Starting his speech, Sidhu did not greet dignitaries present on the dais by name in an apparent bid to avoid CM Capt Amarinder Singh and general secretary in-charge Asha Kumari. He began with, “samanyog manch” (respected dignitaries).
In a no-holds-barred attack on the Badals, he asked people to vote out Harsimrat from Bathinda. But his blistering attack was not reserved only for the Badals. Launching a veiled attack on Amarinder, he said: “Bulbula de bana ch kade baaj nahi rehende, buzdila de sirr te kade taaj nahi rehnde... jhuka ke sirr rakhan di aadat jeri koum nu pe jave, os koum de hathan wich kade raaj nahi rehnde (An eagle does not live in a nightingale’s nest. Cowards don’t get to wear the crown and a community that bows down in fear, never rules).
Sidhu said he will leave politics if he fails to punish those behind sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib. In another swipe at Captain, he promised to send Badals to jail.
By reaching out to the cricketer-turned-politician, Priyanka has shown that Sidhu matters in the party’s scheme of things. In a viral video, Priyanka and Sidhu are seen reaching Bathinda together and being received by Amarinder and Asha, who tries to speak to Sidhu but he walks away.
Sidhu, who had taken offence to not being allowed to speak at Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s rally at Moga on March 7, had skipped political events. “If I am not good enough to speak at Rahul’s rally, I am not good enough as 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.
He later accompanied Priyanka to Gurdaspur for a roadshow where Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar is pitted against actor Sunny Deol.
Sidhu was dismissive on his wife, Navjot Kaur, firing a fresh salvo accusing Captain and Asha of lobbying against ticket to her from Amritsar seat citing the rail tragedy. Kaur went on to add that Sidhu will not campaign in Punjab, presumably unaware of her husband being asked to accompany Priyanka.
Kaur had earlier said she did not accept the offer to fight Amritsar as she could not campaign in nine assembly seats without her husband’s support.
A day before, Rahul had got sulking Rajya Sabha MP Partap Bajwa to share the dais with Amarinder in Khanna. Seen holding Rahul’s hand, Bajwa fired parting shots at Amarinder by telling the media that the party would win all 13 seats as people were “very happy with performance of Amarinder government”.
ADDRESSES FIRST RALLY IN STATE AT BATHINDA WITH PRIYANKA, SAYS ‘HERE COMES SIDHU, RUN BADAL RUN’