Few days after Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s luncheon meeting with his bete noire and former Cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu, his absence from government’s function to mark 551st birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev at Dera Baba Nanak on Monday has sparked off speculation that the gulf between the duo has still not been bridged.
On the other hand, presence of activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who is being seen as a strong baiter of NDA government at the Centre, at the government function has also created a furore in the Congress party.
While many in the Congress are seeing Bhushan’s presence at the government’s function as the start of “warm relationship” between him and the party, party sources said he himself wanted to be a part of Guru Nanak Dev’s 551st birth celebrations.
Cabinet minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who was the organiser of the function as it was in his constituency, said that Bhushan had himself expressed his desire to be a part of the celebrations, “He had called up to ask if he could be a part of the celebrations as he has a special place for Guru Nanak Dev in his heart. We readily agreed. How could anyone say no?” asked Randhawa.
Not only Bhushan’s presence but his speech at the function, in which he claimed he was not a Punjabi but his wife was, is also being seen as “political” by political circles in the state. Bhushan was a founder member of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and was expelled from the party five years ago along with Yogendra Yadav. Former Patiala MP Dr Dharamvira Gandhi is their aide. Amarinder and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal are sworn enemies and the AAP is trying to infuse some life into its state unit that has lost ground ahead of Assembly elections in the state in 2022.
While the party did not have its popular speaker in Navjot Sidhu at the function, Bhushan was on the government’s stage addressing the gathering. “He speaks well. There were many people who hailed him for his stand in Supreme Court in the infamous contempt of court case against him,” a party leader said.
On invite to Sidhu, it is learnt that the government had sent printed invites to all MLAs, ministers and dignitaries to attend the function as it was to mark the completion of 550th year celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev starting last year on his birthday.
Sidhu, who had hit the headlines during opening of Kartarpur corridor and was the harbinger of the news from Pakistan, was not a part of the function on Monday.
Along with him, party general secretary incharge Harish Rawat, who has been active in the state, was also conspicuous by his absence. He had been supporting Sidhu and had even called him a “Rafale”.
“His absence does mean everything is still not right. Otherwise why would he not come?” asked a party leader.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines