CHANDIGARH: Navjot Singh Sidhu has emerged stronger in state politics, particularly in the ruling Congress, and is ready to take on his critics. After Tuesday’s Supreme Court verdict, Sidhu’s political career remains safe and he will not have to resign and he does not become ineligible to contest elections.
Despite his conviction, Sidhu will retain his Cabinet berth, because as per the Representation of the People Act, any person convicted of an offence or crime and punished for a term of two or more years in prison is immediately disqualified as a lawmaker. The SC fined Sidhu rs 1,000 and did not give him a jail term.
Narvedinder Singh, son of the deceased Gurnam Singh, said their family needed some time to come to terms with the verdict. “Justice has been denied to us, but we respect the court’s order,” he said.
Meanwhile, a visibly relieved Sidhu said he would pray for long life for those who had criticised him, as they wanted to derive political mileage from his case. Sidhu said he had messaged Congress president Rahul Gandhi. “I have sent a message to Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi that my life is yours and I have also given a phone call to Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.”
Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh tweeted, “His acquittal on culpable homicide charges shows justice has prevailed. I’d always maintained that there was nothing willful in his act, and the judges have also upheld the same. Law has duly taken its course.”
Significantly, earlier the Congress-led state government had urged the apex court to uphold the three-year jail sentence ordered by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in the case.
This was the stand taken by the state government in the HC in this case in 2006, when Amarinder Singh was the Chief Minister. Then Sidhu was the BJP Member of Parliament from Amritsar. But now the party High Command had not taken kindly to the state government’s stand on Sidhu in the Supreme Court.
There was speculation in the state Congress circles that if Sidhu got convicted in this case, then a Cabinet berth would fall vacant, and thus many legislators were hoping to get it. Within the state Congress there has always been a feeling that Sidhu had been imposed on it by the High Command. Now everyone has gone silent and a few ministers welcomed the decision of the apex court on Sidhu.