Kejriwal wanted me only to campaign, not contest polls: Sidhu

Chandigarh, Sep 8 (IANS) Spilling the beans on why his much speculated association with the AAP never happened, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu on Thursday said that its chief Arvind Kejriwal had asked him not to contest the Punjab assembly elections but only focus on campaigning (for AAP).

Giving details of his talks with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) after he resigned from the Rajya Sabha this July, Sidhu said that the AAP leadership, particularly Kejriwal, were non-committal on his role if he joined ranks with them.

“Like the BJP, they (AAP) wanted to make me another decoration piece. Kejriwal told me not to contest and only campaign for the party. I was offered that my wife will be made a minister,” Sidhu told media here.

The chirpy Sidhu, who formally announced a new political front ‘Awaaz-e-Punjab’ here on Thursday, said that his fight was against the system and the leaders who had “ruined” Punjab. With this announcement, he has closed all doors on his speculated association with any party.

Sidhu’s revelations on the AAP episode, which he described as the “other half truth” that had not been revealed by Kejriwal in his tweets, came on a day when Kejriwal started his four-day Punjab trip to rejuvenate the party’s crisis-ridden unit.

Sidhu said the move to launch the new political front was to ensure that people in Punjab and Punjabiat won.

“Our slogan is ‘Punjab will win’ this time. Punjabiat will win. Our fight is against the system that has ruined Punjab. People with selfish interests have overridden interests of the state. People want change in governance.

“At this stage, Awaaz-e-Punjab is not a party. It is a forum for good governance,” Sidhu announced, adding that the forum should be given 15-20 days to work out its future course.

Sidhu was flanked by former Indian hockey team captain Pargat Singh, a legislator of Punjab’s ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, and two independent legislators, Balwinder Singh Bains and Simarjeet Singh Bains, during the launch of the front.

Pargat Singh was last month suspended from the Akali Dal for “anti-party” activities. The Bains brothers, who had fallen out with the Akali Dal top leadership three years ago, have significant influence in Ludhiana district.

The political front, which is likely to be converted into a party later, is likely to contest all 117 assembly seats in the elections to be held early next year.

The former Rajya Sabha member had on September 2 floated the new political front online.

Sidhu, who is a BJP member, said that he had resigned from the Rajya Sabha as his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), had given him two options – either to support and campaign for Badals or not to look towards Punjab.

“I refused to accept either of these two conditions and resigned,” Sidhu said. He asked the media to ask the BJP leadership if he and his wife, Navjot Kaur, who is also a sitting BJP legislator in Punjab, were still with the party (BJP) or not.

“Let me make one thing very clear. My resignation from the Rajya Sabha had nothing to do with the AAP. It was purely my decision as I wanted to work for Punjab,” he said.

Sidhu lambasted Punjab’s ruling Badal family, particularly Deputy Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, for trying to scuttle him politically.

He even linked the Badal family to “kale badal” (black clouds) over Punjab and added that a new light would soon dawn on the state. He said that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was a “do akhaan wala Dhritrashtra” (King Dhritrashtra (the blind king from Mahabharat) with two eyes).

He accused the ruling family of running the government in Punjab for the past decade as a personal fiefdom and putting their self-interests before the interests of the state and its people.

Sidhu said that the Badals and Congress leader Amarinder Singh were two sides of the same coin and had brought Punjab to the verge of ruin.

Pargat Singh said that the Badals and the party had become a den of muscle and money power to rule over Punjab.

–IANS

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