CHANDIGARH: Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu indicated his willingness to work for Congress in a meeting with Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh in Delhi on Sunday.
Capt Amarinder Singh said the decision on whether or not to contest the Amritsar Lok Sabha bypoll had been left to the ex-cricketer. In another setback to the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), four leaders, including two sitting MLAs, joined the Congress on Tuesday.
After welcoming into the party fold four new joinees, including two sitting MLAs, Amarinder said he had met Sidhu and got the impression that he was interested in campaigning for Punjab Congress in the coming Assembly polls, but the final call on it was his.
Before returning to Mumbai, Sidhu met Amarinder in Delhi and discussed his plans for Punjab. SAD’s sitting MLAs Rajinder Kaur Bhagike from Nihal Singh Wala and Mahesh Inder Singh from Bagha Purana, along with SAD leader Pritam Singh Kotbhai and social activist from Phillaur, Ajay Sharma, into the Congress fold in New Delhi. Kotbhai had lost narrowly to the Congress candidate in the last election.
Expressing their disillusionment and anger with the Akali leadership, the sitting MLAs said they had always been loyal to the party but could not allow themselves to be slaves to the Badals. Not only were they deprived tickets to contest the forthcoming Assembly polls but were also threatened and terrorised, they said.
Responding to questions, Amarinder said while the decision on ticket allocation was the prerogative of the Congress president Sonia Gandhi, he would be happy to campaign for Navjot Kaur Sidhu if she gets the ticket forAmritsar East assembly segment. On a question regarding announcement of Congress tickets for the Assembly elections, Amarinder said all the candidates for the 117 seats in the State will be announced after December 8, when the next meeting of the Congress Election Committee is scheduled.
Replying to a question on the charge-sheet filed by the Income Tax department in court against him, Amarinder said there was no substance in the case, and added that it was completely politically motivated. He pointed out that the issue of his alleged foreign assets was first raised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he (the PPCC president) was pitched against BJP’s Arun Jaitley in Amritsar during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. “Nobody knew me in Barmer (Rajasthan), so what was the point of talking about me there,” he asked, adding that this clearly indicated that the entire case had been fabricated by the BJP for furthering their vested interests, and the interests of their ally, the SAD, in Punjab.