New Delhi/Nagpur: Hinting a war against BJP, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu said on Monday that he resigned from Rajya Sabha because he was asked to stay far away from Punjab which goes to the polls next year. “How can I leave the people who voted me four times,” Sidhu said. The maverick cricketer quit the Rajya Sabha on July 18.
It was speculated that Sidhu is planning to quit the BJP and join the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ahead of the Assembly elections in Punjab early next year. He resigned a mere three months after the Narendra Modi Government nominated him to Parliament’s Upper House. Sidhu had so far not explicitly said why he resigned. However, his wife Navjot Kaur, who’s a BJP MLA in Punjab, said that Sidhu’s quitting the Rajya Sabha meant he was quitting the BJP.
In a brief statement on his resignation, Sidhu indicated he was miffed with the state of affairs in the BJP. “It is understood that if he has quit the Rajya Sabha, he has quit BJP. There is no question of his going back, he has never gone back on his words. He wants to serve Punjab. And he will serve the state.”
Sidhu’s own comments were more cryptic.
“At the behest of the honourable PM, I had accepted the Rajya Sabha nomination for the welfare of Punjab. With the closure of every window leading to Punjab the purpose stands defeated. It is now a mere burden. I prefer not to carry it,” he said. The 52-year-old politician also said that “in the war of right or wrong, you can’t afford to be neutral rather than being self-centered” and that “Punjab’s interest is paramount”.
Sidhu represented Amritsar in the Lok Sabha between 2004 and 2014. Kaur is MLA from Amritsar-East constituency and Chief Parliamentary Secretary (Health) in the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP Government in Punjab. “I think he (Sidhu) has very clearly suggested what he is going to do and in the coming days let him come out with this (his future plans). He has said that he wants to serve Punjab and there is no choice except serving from Aam Aadmi Party,” Kaur said earlier this month.
Highlights of Sidhu talk:
• I resigned from the Rajya Sabha because I was told not to look towards Punjab. In fact, Iwas told to stay away from Punjab.
• The biggest dharm of all dharams is ‘Rashtra Dharm’.
• Party is not above Punjab, cannot leave the people who voted for me
• If there is not dharm bigger than rashtra dharm, then tell me, how am I supposed to leave my roots.
• How can Navjot Singh Sidhu leave the soil he belongs to.
• How can I leave those people. I have won four times. I can understand if you say that I won the first time because of being a ‘celebrity’… but the second time on wards you win because of the good work you do.
• After winning four elections, if I am told that stay away from Punjab… I ask why? Am I guilty of something? Have I done anything wrong? How can they expect me stay away from Punjab.
• No political party is bigger than ‘Punjab’.
• If this was the first time, I could still understand, they made a mistake… but this is the third or fourth time.
• Till the time I was the MP from Amritsar, I never went home… gave my everything. When they asked me to step down during the case…. I stepped down immediately.
• Then I was told to stand from Kurukshetra…. Then they said stand from west Delhi, to which I refused.
• Now they say, stay away from Punjab. This is not acceptable.
• If I ever have to choose between my party, family and Punjab… I will always choose Punjab over everything and everyone else. There is no doubt in my mind about it.