The day Arvind Kejriwal arrived in Punjab, former BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu greeted him with an attack that seemed to shut out the possibility of the two coming together.
Launching the Awaaz-e-Punjab, as of now a forum rather than a party, Sidhu, flanked by former hockey player Pargat Singh and other members, accused Kejriwal of having wanted him only as a campaigner but not as a candidate. He said Kejriwal wanted only “yes men” around him and described AAP as “anarchy in the garb of democracy” with only three men running the party.
Sidhu said he had been told Kejriwal would visit him but then got a call he could not come. Describing Kejriwal as not an aam aadmi but a khaas aadmi who moves around in convoys and cannot visit him, Sidhu said he had offered to go to Kejriwal for the sake of Punjab.
“Kejriwal tweeted that Sidhu did not put any demands. But he spoke only half the truth. I will tell the entire truth,” Sidhu said. “I asked him to define my role, what you want from me. I have been telling my party that I cannot stand with the Akalis. You appear to be an alternative, tell me what you want from me.”
He alleged Kejriwal told him he should not fight the Punjab elections. “Ask your wife to fight, we will make her a minister,” Sidhu quoted Kejriwal as having said. “I said Sat Sri Akal and came home… I was a decoration piece earlier [with BJP] and they wanted to use me as the same.”
Sidhu said his wife Navjot Kaur was taken aback and wondered why Kejriwal was so insecure that he wanted to keep him out before the race had even started. “I was reminded of the song, ‘Bholi surat dil ke khote, naam bade aur darshan chhote’,” said Sidhu.
Sidhu said AAP was another form of the East India Company — “Central India Company”, sending “42 Dilliwallas” and trying to win Punjab through “divide and rule”.
“They got together 25 paid pappus and make them write on social media. Ghuggi and Bhagwant Mann are like my younger brothers and I brought them forward. If made to stand with them, I would have made them look better, I would have looked better. No one can whistle a symphony. It is an orchestra that plays it,” said Sidhu.
Sidhu said he had been pursued by AAP leaders for two years but clarified that his resignation from Rajya Sabha had nothing to do with Kejriwal or AAP. “I quit because I was told to campaign for the Badals and I refused,” he said.
With Sidhu was Pargat, suspended as an SAD MLA, and independent MLA brothers Balwinder Singh and Simarjeet Singh Bains. He sought another 15 days to bring out the true shape of Awaaz-e-Punjab.
“Awaaz-e-Punjab will work for the resurrection and redemption of Punjab,” Sidhu said. “Leaders are needed who can set an example. Men of genius are admired, men of power are feared and men of character are trusted. We fall in the third category.”