October 10, 2014 9:58:35 am
A day after former BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu lashed out at SAD in his rallies while campaigning in Haryana, SAD president and Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal retorted by saying that he did not “know” anyone called Sidhu.
“Who is Navjot Sidhu? I don’t know him. I knew someone by that name earlier but I have forgotten,” Sukhbir told The Indian Express. Sukhbir was in Pehowa to campaign for INLD candidate Jaswinder Singh Sandhu.
Sidhu had in his rallies at Dabwali and Kalianwali yesterday criticized SAD for joining hands with the INLD, referring to the Badals as “backstabbers.” He said SAD was in power in Punjab and that is why they had “forgotten” the BJP.
SAD general secretary Maheshinder Singh Grewal lambasted Sidhu saying it was he who was the backstabber. “He backstabbed his mentor Arun Jaitley in the Lok Sabha polls, when he did not come to Amritsar to campaign even for a day. And what about the stories doing the rounds that he even went to meet Rahul Gandhi for a ticket before the elections? What does that make him? A loyalist of BJP or a backstabber?” said Grewal.
With SAD in collaboration with INLD in Haryana against BJP —- their ally in Punjab —- till now the two parties have been working on a mutual understanding that BJP leaders will not speak against Akalis while campaigning and vice versa. Both will only target the Congress and other parties. But with the stakes rising and the battle at many places looking like a straight fight between BJP and INLD, the veneer of the unsaid rule is thinning.
Thus, when the two-time Amritsar MP, known for his straightforwardness, chose to “break” the unwritten understanding and took on the Badals in his rallies in support of BJP candidates, he had the silent backing of the BJP.
“It is not Sidhu who started it. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said a few days ago at a rally that he became Punjab CM because of the INLD. How can he say that? He has become CM because of the BJP. If SAD leaders speak against the BJP, we will speak against SAD,” said a BJP leader.
The SAD, however, claims it is assiduously sticking to the rule and not uttering a word against the BJP. “It is a tightrope walk for the SAD leaders but they are only speaking against the Congress. In fact, it is Amit Shah who has been making provocative speeches, referring to INLD as goondas. And not just Shah, at times even Narendra Modi’s speeches have been derogatory. But we have not reacted at all in our campaigning. We can also easily call the BJP communal. That will get thundering applause from the public. But we have been told not to say a word against BJP and we are sticking to it,” said a top SAD leader.
The Punjab BJP distanced itself from Sidhu’s speech. “Whatever Sidhu said were his personal remarks and the party has nothing to do with it. He spoke what he felt strongly about. It is up to him,” said BJP president Kamal Sharma.
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