A day after former Cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu gave his parallel model to handle farming crisis, he climbed down from his stand while speaking in Punjab Vidhan Sabha as he seconded the resolution moved by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to reject the Centre’s farm laws, congratulated the CM on calling the special session but not without getting disappointed in the end.
A senior functionary of the government, considered a confidant of CM, is learnt to have worked on Sidhu on Monday evening, and get him on board to put up a united face of the ruling party in the Vidhan Sabha. The functionary met Sidhu personally and briefed him about the resolution. The government thought it would be the best case scenario if Sidhu seconds the resolution.
While doing so, Sidhu took Amarinder’s name a number of times, was not critical of the government. He toned down his earlier stand when he had said on Monday that the government should give MSP and arrange resources by cracking down on the media. On Tuesday, he simply stated that the government will have to find alternatives. Sidhu even congratulated the Chief Minister, and did not do anything to embarrass the government. But as soon as he took over from the CM, who had moved the resolution, the telecast of his speech on various channels and on the CM’s Facebook page was abruptly stopped. Sidhu is considered a popular leader, who has a huge following on social media.
A spokesperson of the government said that live telecast was not stopped because of Sidhu but the government had planned to telecast only the CM’s speech. No other leader was telecast live while speaking.
The issue was raised by a Facebook page related to Sidhu — Team Navjot Singh Sidhu — that posted: “as soon as Navjot Singh Sidhu started speaking in support of farmers in Vidhan Sabha, the telecast was stopped…means…Sidhu’s voice was stopped from reaching the people of Punjab. Kinni ku derr aakhir, dharti haner jardi Kinni ku derr rehnda khamosh khoon mera.”
The “treatment” to Sidhu, incidentally on his birthday, did not end here. When Amarinder led a delegation of all-party MLAs to the Punjab Governor, Sidhu was standing far away from the CM and other leaders who handed the resolution to the Governor.
A group of Congress leaders said they felt that he should have been given a better treatment. “The CM should have shown magnanimity and called him to the forefront. But it was not done.”
A leader, however, said that this was not an issue as the CM wanted the Opposition leaders to accompany him to hand over the resolution to convey a message of unity.
In the evening, Sidhu celebrated his birthday with party affairs incharge Harish Rawat and Punjab Youth Congress president Brinder Dhillon, an aide of the CM. Sidhu posted the video of the celebration on Jittega Punjab Facebook page.
CAPTAIN GETS OPPN ON BOARD
Sources said it was the CM’s strategy and management that was behind Punjab Vidhan Sabha putting up a united face while negating the Centre’s farm laws on Tuesday. The Opposition parties, including SAD and AAP, that kept the heat turned on against the government on Monday, as SAD had staged dharna outside Punjab Bhawan and AAP legislators spent the night at Assembly to protest against the government not supplying them the draft of the Bill beforehand, went with the flow in the Vidhan Sabha on Tuesday.
The CM is learnt to have personally rung up a few leaders and even told his own colleagues to keep the heat turned on at the BJP and not SAD or AAP. A few Congress leaders, who had gone prepared to hit the Akalis, toned down their speech in the Vidhan Sabha during the debate. As a part of the strategy, SAD leader Bikram Majithia was made to speak first of all among the SAD legislators.
“The environment became such that the SAD was not very critical of the government. All the MLAs went to meet the Governor along with the CM. They will all go to meet the President too,” a leader said.
However, later in the evening both AAP and SAD said that a lot needs to be done for the farmers. Both the parties demanded the CM to assure farmers about the MSP.
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