Sidhu has never been a team player, says ex-CM Amarinder Singh

Express News Service

CHANDIGARH:  With his latest move of resigning as the Punjab Congress president, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu has lived up to his image of being a trouble monger. During his cricketing years, he had left the team midway during an international tour. Even after joining politics, his capricious ways continued. 

“I have known this boy since his childhood and he has been a loner and can never be a team player,” said Amarinder, recalling how the cricketer had deserted the Indian team in 1996 in England. “That’s what his real character is.” 

After a public falling out with the BJP, Sidhu had in 2017 reigned from the party after 13 years. Sidhu, who first won the Lok Sabha polls from Amritsar in 2004 on a BJP ticket, had to vacate the seat in 2014 for Arun Jaitley, who lost to Amarinder. To placate Sidhu, the BJP nominated him to the Rajya Sabha in 2016, but he resigned later that year and announced floating of a ‘non-political’ platform, Awaz-e-Punjab. 

When in the BJP, an ambitious Sidhu also wanted the party to sever ties with the Shiromani Akali Dal as it used to contest just 23 assembly seats in Punjab as part of seat-sharing in the alliance then. After resigning from the BJP, he send out signals that a deal with the Aam Aadmi Party had been reached but it did not materialse as the Arvind Kejriwal-led party refused to project him as its CM face.

He then joined the Congress despite Amarinder being fiercely opposed to his entry since the party brass felt that Sidhu’s ability to whip up passions with his oratory in election rallies could help the party. In 2017, Sidhu won the assembly elections from Amritsar (East) and became a cabinet minister in Amrinder government, holding the portfolio of local bodies and tourism. In 2019, his portfolio was changed to the power and renewable energy but he did not assume charge. 

He was sulking as Amarinder had blamed Sidhu’s ‘inept’ handling of local bodies department for Congress’s  poor performance in urban local body polls and Sidhu’s wife Navjot Kaur was denied a Lok Sabha ticket.  He eventually resigned from the state cabinet but what had raised eyebrows at the time was his move to send his resignation letter to Rahul Gandhi instead of the chief minister.