Amid friction between Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh and his star campaigner and Cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu, the latter Monday indicated he would not campaign in Punjab. Having addressed 80 election rallies in 28 days across the country, Sidhu released his itinerary to the media for the next four days. He will be campaigning in Bihar, Himachal and Madhya Pradesh for next four days but not Punjab.
General secretary in-charge Asha Kumari had been saying that he would campaign in Punjab. But sources said Sidhu was cross with the party for not being allowed to speak at AICC president Rahul Gandhi’s Moga rally. Later, his wife Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu was denied a ticket from Chandigarh. He is said to believes that this is a conspiracy — possibly by Punjab Congress led by PPCC chief Sunil Kumar Jakhar, who was pushing for a ticket for her from Bathinda instead.
After Sidhu’s refusal to campaign especially in Jakhar’s constituency, equations between him and Cabinet minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who was seen siding with Sidhu while taking on SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia, would need to be watched. Randhawa is helping Jakhar aggressively in Gurdaspur, sources said. He was often seen supporting Sidhu in Vidhan Sabha sessions after verbal attacks by Akalis. At a time when no one was seen supporting Sidhu, Randhawa was seen backing him. But Sidhu allegedly got upset with Randhawa when the latter did not invite him to speak at the Moga rally. Jakhar has been seen defending Sidhu in the past, but ticket distribution appears to have changed the equation.
In a release on Monday, Sidhu stated that his campaign had “severely impacted his vocal cords to the extent that they bled at times.” “He consulted physicians early Sunday morning in Chandigarh, who advised two alternatives. Either the balm coating over his damaged throat, which would require him not to speak for four days, or a severe measure of anti-inflammatory injections and steroid medication along with complete rest for 48 hours,” his office said. It added, “Sidhu insisted on continuing to campaign…He chose anti-inflammatory injections and steroid medication to rest for just two days… he is under medication and in process of a quick recovery to return to campaigning at the earliest.”
In the remaining four days of poll campaign, Sidhu will be addressing public meetings in Patna Sahib, Bihar on May 14, in Paonta Sahib, Bilaspur and Nalagarh, Himachal Pradesh on May 15, and in MP on May 16 and 17.