New Delhi: Breaking his silence after a week, Navjot Singh Sidhu today said he resigned as a BJP parliamentarian because he had been asked to “not even look at” Punjab, where elections will be held next year. In an angst-filled statement punctuated by his trademark couplets, Mr Sidhu managed to dodge questions on whether he plans to join Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
“I was asked to stay away from Punjab. How can I quit my roots? The first time can be a mistake. But this is the fourth time it is happening…it was hard to take in,” Mr Sidhu, 52, told reporters in Delhi. “When the going gets tough, it is Sidhu Sidhu…but now they say don’t look at Punjab….Have I done anything wrong? Should I stay away to serve the personal interests of some people?” said the cricketer-turned-politician known for his garrulous commentary not just on cricket.
Sharing that he contested and won in Amritsar in the 2004 national election at 14 days’ notice on receiving a phone call from former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he quipped: “There was a time when I was their only winner in north India. Then the Modi wave came…it sank not just the opposition but Sidhu as well.”
Mr Sidhu’s sudden resignation last Tuesday instantly triggered speculation that he is moving to the AAP, which has seen a surge in its popularity in Punjab in the months ahead of the elections. His wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu last week attributed her husband’s silence to a “maun vrat (vow of silence)” and said that his resignation from the Rajya Sabha implies a resignation from the BJP.
Later in the week, aides said Mr Sidhu would soon call the media and clarify.In a blue bandhgala for the occasion, Mr Sidhu said, eyes flashing with indignation: “No party in the world is bigger than Punjab. I am willing to accept the consequences.”
Mr Sidhu was nominated to the Rajya Sabha earlier this year in a move that was seen as propitiation after he was asked to make way for his party senior Arun Jaitley in Punjab’s Amritsar, the seat he had held since 2004.