CONTRARY TO widespread expectations, the face of Awaaz-e-Punjab political forum, Navjot Singh Sidhu today shied away from announcing the platform as a full-fledged political party, and instead, sought another 15 days to bring forth the true shape of the outfit which, he said, was getting overwhelming response.
Flanked by suspended Jalandhar MLA from Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Pargat Singh, and the two independent MLAs from Ludhiana, Balwinder Singh Bains, and Simarjeet Singh Bains, Sidhu addressed a packed press conference and spelled out the vision for Awaaz-e-Punjab.
“Awaaz-e-Punjab will work for the resurrection and redemption of Punjab. Good people have been removed from the system and they have watched this happen silently from the sidelines. It is also a crime to remain silent. 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,” said Sidhu.
Emphasising that it is Punjab which will win in this electoral tussle of 2017, he gave out the slogan of the forum — “Punjab will win, Punjabiat will win, Punjabis will win”.
“It is a time for change. People have seen ‘dandatantra’ in the state. People want change in governance. They want that some good leader should come forth who can change the feeling of defeat into victory. Our first aim is that we want Punjab to win, vote for Punjab leaving aside personal greed,” he said.
The former Amritsar MP said Awaaz-e-Punjab is not a party but a forum for Punjabis and he appealed to like-minded people to come forward .
“We cannot decide so fast. Give us 10-15 days at least. You have given others 40-50 years but give us some time at least. We will take just 15 days and convey it to you. We will decide everything in favour of Punjab,” he said.
Sidhu asserted there was an overwhelming response to the forum and that the challenge was to decide on how to channelise that response for Punjab’s benefits.
Replying to a question on the AAP allegation that he was “highly ambitious” and because of the forum there will be division of votes which will help the Akalis, Sidhu said it was for the people to decide who they will vote for. “Nobody wastes his vote. People think and vote. Just wait for some time all will be clear,” he said.
Sidhu also refuted the perception that he was angling for the CM’s chair and this was why his talks with Kejriwal fell through. “You look at the tweet of Kejriwal. He said Sidhu came with no pre-condition. The question does not arise that I would say I want this or that,” he said.
Former Indian Hockey Captain Pargat Singh also said a change was needed in Punjab and that he had been disappointed with the AAP after interacting with its leaders. The suspended Akali MLA also lashed out at Punjab Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) patron Parkash Singh Badal, saying he had a particular ‘model’ that helped him remain chief minister five times. “He was successful for five times. But he also used to cut the roots of the person whom he took under his wings. But his son and the son’s brother-in-law (referring to Sukhbir Badal and Bikram Majithia) have gone beyond that,” said Pargat.
He said he had often reiterated that muscle power and money power model will not work this time in Punjab. “Badals say they made me this, that, MLA etc I thought they will also say they made me the Captain of Indian hockey team too. There is no democracy, only ‘daangocracy’ (Rule by force). Everyone is silent,” he said.
Referring to the reports that an ‘outsider’ may be the CM of Punjab, Pargat said, “I told Sidhu that if someone has to come from outside to become a CM then you come forward directly,”.
Independent MLA from Ludhiana, Balwinder Singh Bains, too hit out at the Badals while explaining the reason why the forum had been formed.
Stating that jungle raj prevailed in the state, he said there had been a spate of high-profile incidents where the state government had handed over the investigation of the cases to CBI and that the CM
should have resigned while doing so.
His brother, Simarjeet Singh Bains, also an MLA, said it was the passion of the members of the forum which brought the members together and not greed for power.