Unlike his maiden visit to the city after he joined Congress, Navjot Singh Sidhu received a lukewarm welcome on his first visit to Amritsar on Wednesday as Punjab’s Minister for Local Government, Tourism and Cultural affairs, amid controversy following questions raised over his participation in the ongoing comedy television show by none other than Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.
Sidhu landed at the Amritsar airport where he was welcomed by newly elected Amritsar North MLA Sunil Dutti and some loyal supporters who joined Congress before the 2017 Punjab Assembly elections along with the Sidhu couple.
Former MLA and District Congress Committee President (Urban) Jugal Kishor Sharma and leader of the opposition in Amritsar municipal corporation, Raj Kanwal Preet Pal Singh Lucky, were among the few veteran Congress leaders who came to welcome Sidhu.
The scene at the airport today was in sharp contrast to the one on January 17, 2017, when Sidhu was mobbed by prominent Congress leaders from the city at the airport on his maiden visit to Amritsar as a Congressman. Then, his motorcade had taken hours to cover the distance from Amritsar airport to the Golden Temple.
On Wednesday too, Sidhu visited the Golden Temple, where his fans and devotees clicked selfies with him.
Speaking to the media, Sidhu defended the presence of his wife and former MLA Navjot Kaur Sidhu in his official meetings and TV show.
“Whatever the Opposition is saying, let them say it. You must listen to what people have been saying. People have told Opposition to sit back at home. That’s all,” he said.
Asked why the Opposition was protesting the presence of his wife in official meetings, he said, “The only reason is that she is my Ardhangni (better half). Is it enough for you?”
Navjot Kaur, a former BJP MLA, represented the Amritsar East Assembly constituency which she vacated for her husband, who has won the seat as a Congress member.
On the controversy over his TV show, Sidhu said, “A lawyer can do his practice. Manpreet Badal has said a farmer can practise agriculture. My 75 per cent of the television is already over. I have already quit IPL because I am a minister. If I only do some work for four days in a month from 7 pm to 6 am, why are some people pained over it? It is out of my mind. People have made me and my wife win six elections in a row. So when people don’t have any objection, why are others bothered.”
About the absence of most of the elected MLAs from the city during his first visit as a minister, a prominent Congress leader said, “It is too early to read between the lines. I don’t think there should be any trouble between Captain and Sidhu at this stage.”
All five Assembly seats in in Amritsar have been won by Congress.