Addressing the 84th Congress Plenary session on Sunday, Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu lauded Manmohan Singh, saying the former prime minister’s silence had done what BJP’s uproar failed to do. The quirky remarks from Sidhu drew giggles from Sonia Gandhi and former Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot. The paradox lies in the fact that when Sidhu was with BJP, he had once called Singh a “Pappu PM” and an agent of destruction.
Sidhu, who joined Congress last year just before the Punjab assembly elections, also said that Singh was both a sardar and asardar (effective). “You (Singh) are both a sardar and effective too (aap sardaar bhi hain aur asardaar bhi hain). Your silence has done what BJP‘s uproar could not do,” the Punjab minister said.
The praise of the former PM underscores the fact that the man who was once ridiculed for his silence has now become Congress’ strongest and sternest voice against the ruling BJP. During the Gujarat elections campaign, Singh shocked the BJP with an unusually combative response to PM Narendra Modi’s accusation of the Congress conspiring with Pakistan in the polls. He strongly criticised Modi for the “falsehood and canards being spread to score political points”, rattling the saffron party.
Urging Congress chief Rahul Gandhi to embrace the party workers and hear them ahead of the big 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Sidhu said, “PM can be ex, MP can be ex, MLA can be ex, but never can a karyakarta be ex! Navjot Singh Sidhu advises Rahul Gandhi to embrace them so that they will make him hoist flag at Red Fort.”
Earlier in the day, addressing the session, Singh launched a scathing attack on the NDA government, accusing it of having “messed up” the economy and mismanaging the dispute in Jammu and Kashmir. The former PM described the government’s demonetisation move as “ill-considered” and GST as “hastily implemented”.